Lesser Spotted Eagle – Flagship species for the Carpathians – 2005


The Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) is a recently declining large size diurnal raptor. It is unique among the eagles, as this species is the only representative of this group which has its global population concentrated mainly in Europe. The Carpathian Eco-region holds approximately 20 percent of its global population. Its conservation status and its large size territory make this species ideal to be used as flagship species for biodiversity conservation in this region.

With the financial support of the Carpathian Eco-Region Initiative (CERI), the “Milvus Group” Bird and Nature Protection Association initiated a one-year project for the assessment of the possibilities to use the Lesser Spotted Eagle as key species in the nature conservation of the region.

Partner organizations


  • Evaluation of the (barely known) breeding populations of Romania and Ukraine
  • Development of a regional Action Plan for the conservation of the species
  • Facilitation of the “adoption” of the species as the “region’s symbol species” by some Romanian target communities
  • To create a regional raptor specialist network as well as to develop a regional LIFE Nature project for the conservation of the species


  • Organizing a kick off meeting on the 7 th and 8 th of April, in Târgu Mures, Romania, with participants from most of the partner organizations. The conservation status and the actual knowledge about the species in different countries were discussed, and the project activities were scheduled during the meeting. We finalized the methodology to be used during the Romanian and Ukrainian assessment incorporating the experience of the Slovakian and Hungarian project partners. During the meeting the participants identified the major threatening factors of the species in the region, and concluded that the main problems are common and can be tackled most efficiently by joint efforts. Apparently, the diminution of breeding and feeding habitats is the greatest threats mainly caused by the intensive agriculture and forestry.
  • Carrying out a Lesser Spotted Eagle census in Romania and Ukraine. According to the developed methodology we randomly selected a statistically significant number of 10x10km UTM squares from the Carpathians in Romania (128 squares) and Ukraine (67 squares), where the fieldwork was undertaken. Unsuitable squares were eliminated from the pool before randomization. The data were collected in specially designed data sheets, the movement and behaviour of every eagle were also marked on traditional and satellite maps as well. Recording the behaviour was necessary to identify the actively breeding eagle pairs. The observation points were identified on the field, a different number of observation points were selected in different squares in a way to ensure the possibility to check all the potential breeding and feeding habitats in every square. Observations were carried out with spotting scopes and binoculars throughout the three-hour recording period. The fieldwork was carried out in teams of up to nine persons; every person was transported to the identified observation points and then collected after three hours. In the evening the participants shared their impressions and experiences in the ad hoc tent camps. Members of the international team (the Milvus Group was backed up by a whole team of the RPS from Slovakia as well as by experts from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) collected data about every raptor species, and recorded other endangered bird species as well.


  • We possess more accurate informations about the population size and distribution of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in the Carpathian region of Romania and Ukraine. Carpathian population of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Romania is 1543 – 1929 pairs, while in Ukraine it is approximately 140 – 150 breeding pairs. These figures clearly show that the Carpathians are of crucial importance for the global Lesser Spotted Eagle population, which are around 15,000 breeding pairs according to the last surveys
  • New data regarding to the distribution and population size of other endangered raptor species in Romania. We have gathered valuable information about the distribution of the Booted and Short-toed Eagles in Romania, enabling us to prepare more precise population estimates of these rare species.
  • We collected new breeding records of rare species of which we have had very few records from the Carpathian region, such as the Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Cirl Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler, as well as the elusive Peregrine Falcon of which we identified more nesting areas then ever before in the last 20 years in Romania.


  • The acquired informations during the project were used to prepare a Life Nature project proposal for the Conservation of the Lesser Spotted in central Europe.

We thank the Slovakian, Hungarian, Czech and Polish partners for their help during the fieldwork, and also the CERI for the financial support!

For more information please contact the project coordinator: Daróczi J. Szilárd (szilard.daroczi(at)milvus.ro).