From March until the end of May the SOR’s experts monitored five protected areas in South-Western Romania in order to identify the breeding Saker Falcon pairs and to find out how many fledgelings make up the new generation of this population.
These surveys during the breeding period are part of the activities of the international LIFE for Falcons project, dedicated to the conservation of the Saker Falcon, started in 2021. Big, aggressive and very strong, these falcons usually occupy the nests of other birds of prey, including the ones built by White-Tailed Eagles, sometimes even by chasing them away from their nest. They can also use artificial nest boxes as long as they meet their requirements.
During the three monitoring months of this year our biologists visited both the 41 artificial nest boxes and the 92 natural nests identified in 2022 that presented a potential to be occupied by Sakers. Covering almost 4000 kilometers, the team searched the area occupied by the southern population of the species, finding an additional 120 natural nests. Nevertheless in all this area, only 7 breeding pairs have been found, two more than last year. From these, 6 pairs had a successful breeding season, raising a total of 15 chicks to fledgeling age - only two more than the previous year’s generation.
Although the numbers are looking up, the increase in 2023 has a minimal impact and the local population of Saker Falcons remains still very small.
On the Romanian Red List the Saker is classified as critically endangered, and its unfavourable conservation status is the result of a number of anthropogenic factors: electrocution, poaching, illegal trade for falconry, habitat degradation and the intensification of agriculture. Thus, there is a great need to substantially increase the level of awareness, understanding and support capacity of stakeholders and the general public in order to aid the project activities and their impacts on conservation.
This is one of the four pylons on which the strategy of the LIFE for Falcons project is based, implemented by the international team of specialists from SOR, BSPB, Green Balkans, the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the representatives of the Union of hunters and anglers in Bulgaria, The Habitat Foundation and the University of Tübingen.
The project Securing the recovery of the endangered Saker Falcon in Bulgaria and Southern Romania (LIFE20 NAT/BG/001162) is of 5 years duration and has received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union.