In the Western and Eastern part of Slovakia there will be 55 aluminum nest boxes installed for the Saker Falcon and in the trees there will be 40 artificial nests installed for both the Saker Falcon and the Imperial Eagle. The aim of these activities is to stabilize and increase the population of two endangered species.
The project will secure management on two key areas. The first is endemic colonies suslik in the protected bird area Slovak Karst. Suslik (Spermophilus citellus) is a very important historical prey of Saker Falcon and Imperial Eagle, but in consequence of the disappearance of the pastures in the country disappear suslik rapidly.
More information covering the period from 1st July 2018 you can find in Project results here.
Project results covering the period from 1st September 2014 to 30 th June 2018:
55 nest boxes and 40 nests were delivered and installed in project SPAs to improve conditions for nesting of Imperial Eagle and Saker Falcon. The occupancy of nest boxes and nests is checked. In 2016 altogether 5 pairs of Saker Falcon were breeding in project nest boxes in 2016 and raised 16 chicks in total. Another 26 nest boxes were occupied by a Common Kestrel. 9 nests were occupied by a Common Kestrel, Eagle Owl and Common Buzzard. In 2017 six pairs of saker falcon occupied the project nest boxes raising 13 fledglings and also 6 pairs in 2018 with 11 fledglings. 47 nest boxes were occupied by a common kestrel in 2017 and 44 in 2018. The nests were occupied by the goshawk, eagle owl, common buzzard and a kestrel.
In 2017 32 pairs of Saker Falcon were recorded with 95 fledglings and at least 50 pairs of Imperial Eagle raised over 60 fledglings. In 2018 31 pairs of Saker Falcon raised 85 fledglings and at least 54 pairs of Imperial Eagle raised 60 fledglings.
Two sites with the presence of the European Ground Squirrel (S. citellus) are included in the project area in SPA Slovenský kras. S. citellus represents a very important prey for Imperial Eagle and Saker Falcon. At one site, Gemerská Hôrka, the population was on the brink of extinction when the project started (16 individuals in 2015) and it would likely disappear in the next 2 – 3 years without any action. The population was very diffused so we focused on creating a connection between the S. citellus groups and elimination of barriers (bushes, weed etc.). At the other site, Hrhov, the population size was only 75 individuals in the beginning of 2015 and was also diffused into several isolated parts when the project started. Both sites were adjusted to enable the implementation of proper measures, especially regular mowing.
The last mowing by project staff was carried out in September 2017 (with several mowings since May 2017). The cleaning and preparation of habitats was held since January 2017 prior to mowing. Since 2018 the mowing is carried out by land users and volunteers. Besides the tractor and accessory equipment (purchased under the project) also cattle and sheep are used to keep the area as pastures and thus suitable for susliks, especially at Hrhov. This enables to concentrate the mowing under the project on new parts of the site and to increase the total size of the managed area. 6,6 hectares at Hrhov (6 ha planned) and 4,2 hectares at Gemerská Hôrka (3 ha planned) were cleaned and have been under management since 2017. The biomass has been donated to local farmers especially for donkeys and horses.
Juveniles at Gemerská Hôrka were affected by heavy rain in 2017 and 2018, many of them could not escape the water that flooded the burrows. 2 juveniles were found and released on the site after recovery in 2017, another 2 in 2018 (out of 3 found). Despite of this complication we have reached the expected size of population (100 individuals recorded before hibernation in 2017 as well as in 2018). The positive trend is a direct result of proper management and regular feeding. At Hrhov the population increased more than expected (300 individuals recorded before hibernation in 2017 and 500 in 2018!). In 2017 the site was also affected by heavy rains.
As another very positive result of the feeding we recorded significant increase of rate in case of number of individuals who survive hibernation. This was essential to ensure the total increase of the population on both sites.