The failed struggle for survival

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In April we were thrilled to report the release of two recovered White-tailed Eagles. The two large, protected birds of prey arrived at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Sânsimion, Mureș county last autumn. After several months of strengthening, adequate food and lots of care, our colleagues judged them ready for release. 

The release of these two required thorough preparation, and the installation of satellite transmitters gave us hope that we would be able to track their routes and get information about the habitats of their choice.

Our hopes were partly shattered when, justa week after the release, one of the eagles was found dead about 50 km from the release site.

The other bird, from the Retezat National Park, spent some time in the fields and other Transylvanian sites, then with a big push headed east and after a short detour to Ukraine, arrived in the Danube Delta two months ago. Days passed and the transmitter gave the same signal, leading us to conclude that he had also perished. We will only know the cause of death after a field inspection and examination of the carcass, but so far we have not been able to recover the bird, which is lying in a difficult-to-reach spot in the middle of a reed bed.

Sadly, this is not the first time that an eagle equipped with our transmitter has met a tragic end. In 2021, our fellow colleagues were greeted by a sad sight in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine: the carcass of Zador, a young eagle released after successful rehabilitation. The bird had suffered a fatal electrocution on an uninsulated medium-voltage pole.

These tragic outcomes show that despite our best efforts, the survival of endangered young birds of prey is precarious and few survive to adulthood.

Take a look at our animated map of the young eagle’s wanderings!

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