Drone helps orphaned vulture chick to fledge


A Griffon Vulture chick that lost its mother to a powerline collision earlier this spring went on to successfully fledge in late July – and the positive outcome is being credited to the help of a drone.

The nest, at an undisclosed location in Israel, has been viewable by webcam since the spring. The chick hatched on 12 March and was being fed, as normal, by both its parents until tragedy struck on 4 June – the female of the pair was killed after colliding with powerlines.

The young vulture was regularly fed by deliveries from a drone in order to supplement the nurturing that would have been provided by its mother, had she not tragically died in a powerline collision in early June.

Losing a parent at this stage would normally have meant starvation for the rapidly growing chick – in the later stages of its development, a single parent would simply not be able to provide enough food for the youngster.

On hearing the news, quick-thinking conservationists intervened. They decided to use a drone to provide regular food deliveries to the chick on its nest ledge, in order to supplement the care provided by its mother. At first the idea seemed fanciful but, as it quickly transpired, it proved a success – the chick happily accepted the offerings dropped by the UAV.

With the chick's father also still providing food on a regular basis, the youngster was able to gain enough nourishment to continue to grow. And, on 26 July – some 136 days after hatching – Israel's new-found celebrity successfully fledged in front of the camera, giving a positive boost to the region's relatively small population of vultures.

You can watch webcam footage of the young vulture being fed by the drone here.