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A lappet-faced vulture was caught in the Hai Bar Carmel nature reserve last Friday in a special cage designed to capture vultures for research and monitoring.

This is the first time a bird of this species, only a few of which pass through the country every winter, has been captured and tagged in Israel.

"This is a bird we don't know much about," said Israel Nature and Parks Authority ecologist Ohad Hatzofeh. "The main lappet-faced vulture populations are found in Spain, Turkey, the Balkan states and central Asia."

"In some countries they are monitored with satellite transmitters," he noted. "The Armenians kept track of a lappet-faced vulture that flew all the way to Saudi Arabia."

Unlike other types of vultures, the lappet-faced vulture does not nest in colonies on crags but in trees. They used to nest in Israel in the past, but no longer do so.

"Over the past 20 years, a number of lappet-faced vultures passed through here in the winter but were poisoned or shot," Hatzofeh said. "Perhaps they will resume nesting in areas like the Golan [Heights] in the future, but we will have to protect them."

The lappet-faced vulture captured in Hai Bar Carmel was released back into the wild a day later, after a DNA sample was taken from it. A band was attached to the bird's leg and an identification tag to its wing, so that it can be tracked during its migration.