Unusual evidence for the quality of the nest boxes for Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in Bulgaria

An unusual case showed that the metal nest boxes, installed by BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria to help the Saker Falcon, are very popular amongst birds of prey. An adult male Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) started to occupy such a nest box just a few minutes after its installation, before the man who mounted it was down from the pylon!

The fact that almost 70% of the 147 “Hungarian” type metal nest boxes, installed throughout Bulgaria for the Saker Falcon, were already occupied by Kestrels, was not a surprise for the conservationists from BSPB. It was not a surprise that Sakers appeared around three of them too. But it was a real curiosity, when on 19.06.2012 a male adult Kestrel arrived just a few minutes after nest box №302 was fixed and almost immediately entered it, no matter that the man who installed it was still on the pylon. Initially the bird made several circles over the pylon, perched for an instant on the nest box, made one more circle and landed directly into the box. Seconds later it perched on the side looking as a proud newcomer, watching the people below. Later he entered the nest box again, started flapping his wings, took off, made some more circles and again landed into the box. We left him in his new home…

BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria is installing nest boxes for Sakers since 2008 and up to this moment 305 in total have been mounted in different parts of the country, but this is the first time we witness such a case. It is well known that there is imprinting of the surroundings of the nest, too, when the juveniles ‘fix’ in their memory the shape of the nest and the surrounding objects, and later, when their time to breed comes, they search for a similar place to build their nest. It is quite possible that this Kestrel has been born in some of the previously set similar BSPB nest boxes, and the appearance of the new one to have had such an irresistible effect on him, that he perched just 15 meters from the man descending the pylon!

The basis of the BSPB strategy for saving the Saker in Bulgaria is lying exactly on this biological mechanism. We hope some grown up Sakers searching for nests to recognise in a similar way their birth place in some of our nest boxes and to turn it into a birth place for a new generations Sakers. They would be the first in Bulgaria since 2007.

In June 2012 BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria finished the installation of the planned 10 metal and 10 wooden nest boxes for Sakers in North-Eastern Bulgaria in the framework of the international Life+ Project ‘Conservation of Falco cherrug in North-Eastern Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia’ (LIFE09NAT/HU/000384). This is just a little part of the complex of conservation actions, aiming to create conditions as favourable as possible this magnificent bird to return to the Bulgarian Nature.

Our efforts would not be possible without the invaluable help from the Electricity System Operator Ltd. (ESO Ltd), of its branches in Varna and Dobrich and personally of Eng. Mircho Bozhkov, Eng. Ognyan Hristov, Eng. Todor Angelov, Eng. Dobromir Doychev, Eng. Ivan Velikov, Stoyan Stoyanov, Nikolay Stefanov, Beydjan Husein, Galin Stefanov, Svilen Ivanov and Dimiter Chernev, to whom we express our sincere gratitude!

For more information:

Dr. Petar Iankov
Mobile: +359 878 599 373
E-mail: petar.iankov@bspb.org

Team (Photo: Petar Iankov)

Mounting (Photo: Petar Iankov)

Kestrel in Nest Box (Photo: Petar Iankov)

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