Successful breeding in a Romanian Saker Falcon artificial nest

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P1150143Arthur – the first Saker Falcon to nest in Banat region after their return to the area – was first seen with his pair by Milvus Group ornithologists at the end of February in that year, near a high voltage pylon from Banat region. Atop of the pylon there was a nest made of twigs and the territorial behaviour of Arthur and his pair suggested that it could be the third Saker Falcon nest from Banat region.

When the ornithologists checked the nests at the end of April, they found eggshells underneath them and were certain that the eggs belonged to Saker Falcons. As falcons can`t build their own nest they have to put their eggs in nests they find. In this case the nest was weak and the eggs had fallen out.  The breeding was unsuccessful in that year, but the Saker pair didn`t leave the area, and were observed in May near the nest.

P1150123In 2012, as part of the LIFE project “Conservation of Falco cherrug in NE-Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia”, members of Milvus Group and employees of the ENEL electric company mounted artificial nests on the high voltage pylons in the area. In the following year the same Saker pair was observed around the nest, but for unknown reasons the breeding in that year was also unsuccessful.

P1150140In February 2014, the ornithologists saw the birds near an artificial nest. After careful observation, they concluded that, for the first time in Romania, a Saker Falcon pair had nested in an artificial nest made of aluminium. After a few days, Arthur was caught and a satellite transmitter was mounted on his back. With the help of the electricity company responsible for the pylons, Milvus Group mounted a camera-trap in the nest to monitor their breeding progress. Soon after, the female bird was seen to be breeding. Then, in May when the employees of the electricity company climbed up to the nest, they found 4 chicks living there. In the old, unsuitable nest, the pair had had two unsuccessful breeding years in a row. But once in the large and safe artificial nest, they successfully had four chicks. Once the chicks were large enough, specialists from the Hungarian Ornithological Society (MME) mounted satellite transmitters on two chicks. Unfortunately after one week one of the transmitters fell off the back of the bird.

In this area, another three pairs of Saker Falcons also occupy artificial nests and, together with Arthur and his pair, they prove the importance role that these artificial nests play in ensuring stable breeding conditions for the birds. The aluminium boxes offer nesting places for Sakers that are considerably more spacious and stabile than Rook or Raven nests. Four chicks would never have been able to fit in the natural nest where Arthur and his pair had tried to breed in previous years. To establish a stabile Saker Falcon population in Romania largely depends on the successful breeding of the birds, and artificial nests are contributing towards this hugely.

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