The feeding place
This webcam is located in Las Pichillas feeding place (Binaced, Huesca, northeast Spain) and is one of the oldest controlled feeding places for scavengers in Spain. Already in the decade of the 70s of the last century many of these points were closed and pits were opened in places where the scavenger birds could not eat. In this period, a group of young people from Binaced, who census birds in the feeding place, realized its importance for the survival of several bird species, and also the importance of the area due to the number of red kites that wintered there. In 1980 they created the Friends of the Vulture Fund (Fondo de Amigos del Buitre-FAB), fenced off the feeding place that the City Council gave to this organization, and since then they have been feeding and surveying this population of birds for 40 years.
This feeding place is within the Aragonese Network of Feeding Places for Scavengers (Red Aragonesa de Comederos de Aves Necrófagas-RACAN) of the Aragon Regional Government, and is one of the most important of those launched by the different autonomous communities. It is managed by the FAB and every month about 20,000 kg of meat waste from a nearby slaughterhouse are contributed. All the food that is provided complies with current health legislation and with the necessary authorization from the Huesca Provincial Council.
Why is a feeding place necessary?
In many European countries this type of feeding place is even banned. But there are exceptions. In some areas, like here in Spain, such feeding places are sometimes necessary for the survival of such birds of prey. The food supply in winter (especially during long and very hard winter periods) is so low that the animals often suffer from it and do not survive the winter. Such feeding places help to protect endangered species under strictly adhered to permits and requirements.
Species that you can see
The species that visit the feeding place vary throughout the year. In winter the most abundant is the red kite (Milvus milvus), with more than a thousand wintering birds in the environment. In addition, other raptors are frequent, such as the Western marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus; 50-100 wintering in the area), and the common buzzard (Buteo buteo); corvids such as magpies (Pica pica), crows (Corvus corone) and ravens (Corvus corax); and several species of passerines such as spotless starlings (Sturnus unicolor) and common starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), house sparrows (Passer domesticus) and Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus), crested larks (Galerida cristata), etc., and even in winter it is frequent to see some black kites (Milvus migrans). In the winter period, griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) are generally displaced from the area by the large number of wintering red kites present.
Starting in March, the red kites leave the area, but from that date the Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus) and black kites arrive, which together with the griffon vultures are the main protagonists throughout the spring and summer.
Many small birds take advantage of the large number of insects present in the area: for example, groups of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) fly catching flies, and Eurasian hoopoes (Upupa epops) stop in autumn in their migration to dig up the great number of larvae present.
Given the high number of birds that concentrate or frequent the area, this point facilitates the location of birds tagged throughout Europe with rings, wing tags and transmitters that are registered by this webcam and other cameras installed in the feeding place and that are used to studying the origin and movements of the birds that use it, and also the webcam will be a help to obtain this type of information. For this reason, the camera will sometimes be used to look for tagged birds and read their tags.
The surrounding roosting places
In the surroundings of the feeding place there are several winter roosting places of red kite. Some afternoons the webcam will focus on these points in order to enjoy the entrance of the kites to the trees where they will spend the night.
The installation of this webcam in Las Pichillas feeding place has been possible thanks to the LIFE EUROKITE project (LIFE18 NAT/AT/000048). In order to conserve the red kite throughout Europe, this transboundary conservation project for the red kite and other endangered species of raptors in Europe has started in 2020. This project will be carried out over the next seven years in 26 European countries with the support of numerous beneficiary and co-financing partners. The coordination of LIFE depends on the Austrian organization MEGEG (Mitteleuropäische Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung der Greifvögel, Central European Society for the Protection of Raptors) and SEO/BirdLife is one of the beneficiary partners in Spain.
This webcam is part of one of the three cameras available in the LIFE EUROKITE project within its actions for public awareness and dissemination of results. The action has been carried out thanks to the support of the Friends of the Vulture Fund (FAB), the Binaced City Council and the Huesca Provincial Service of the Aragon Regional Government.