'Saker channel' launched

A new reality show has been launched in Hungary. The participants, however, are not human 'wannabe celebrities', but a pair of strictly protected Saker Falcon. Nevertheless, the reward in this case is not slight either. At the same time, the task of the parents is much more difficult, than for the players in a usual reality show: breeding five eggs, raising the chicks successfully and preparing them for the independent life. In addition, they have to look after the everyday food themselves – for the whole family. It is the first time in the world that everyone interested can follow the breeding of this rare, endangered species through 24 hours a day. The 'Saker channel' is available under the 'Webcam' menu point on the project website.

The Slovak Saker Falcon Slávka successfully spent the winter season in Bulgaria

Recently a long lasting supposition that Bulgaria is a wintering ground for Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug) from more northern countries, was proved. The satellite tagged female Slávka, born in 2011 in Slovakia, spent almost 5 months (172 days between 23.10.2011 and 20.03.2012) in the central part of Southern Bulgaria. During virtually the entire period she remained on a territory of about 831 km². In a single case at the beginning, Slávka flied away at a distance of 79 km, but 2 days later was again on the wintering territory. Slávka entered Bulgaria through Dobrudzha and before reaching her wintering ground she passed along a well known “route” where numerous migrating Sakers have been observed before, as well as through several former breeding areas of her species in Bulgaria.

Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) was observed in the vicinity of an artificial nest box in North-Eastern Bulgaria

On 5th March 2012 a field team of BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria recorded a Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in the vicinity of an aluminum nest box of the ‘Hungarian’ model, proved as the most successful type, installed in 2010. The bird was observed flying and perching on the ground, hunting in different parts of the area around the nest box. The falcon had a full throat, indicating a recent successful attack. Flocks of different birds which could be its potential prey, were observed in the area. „One of the numerous criteria, which BSPB applies to select a site for installing an artificial nest box is the abundance of food. Obviously the site in question has been properly selected”, said Dr. Petar Iankov, one of the experts of the international Life+ Project “Conservation of the Saker Falcon in North-Eastern Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia” (LIFE09NAT-HU-000384).

Conciliation meeting at national level between the Romanian electricity transmission network operators and nongovernmental bird protection organizations

Overhead power lines have a strong influence on wild bird populations. In some cases this influence is a positive one, like in the case of Saker Falcon population from the Carpathian Basin, which breeds mostly on high voltage pylons. Unfortunately negative interactions are more frequent than positive ones, because tens of thousands of birds die yearly by electrocution on the medium voltage pylons. Electrocution is one of the most important risk factors for White Storks and many raptor birds. At the same time bird electrocution on pylons generate lots of power-cuts for the electricity suppliers, thus both parts are interested in resolving this problem.

Bests of LIFE projects

Apparently, not only Sakers, but also the Commission found the previous Saker conservation project ('Conservation of Falco cherrug in the Carpathian Basin' - LIFE06 NAT/HU/000096) one of the best LIFE projects that was closed and evaluated in 2011. Now, the project is among the 13 best projects, however the competition is far being over yet. Those projects will be further evaluated and four 'Best of the best projects' will be selected. The results will be announced at an award ceremony in May in Brussels during the Green Week.

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