Last year in the middle of December Paweł Mirski contacted us from the polish Eagle Conservation Committee (Komitet Ochrony Orłów). He asked us to search a White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) which was tagged with a satellite transmitter in Poland, and had, during winter wandering, flown to the western border of Romania. For three days the transmitter sent data from the same spot, near Dorobanți (Arad county), which suggested that the birds died or the transmitter had fallen of.
He was a young, one year old bird. Together with his brother they were equipped with satellite transmitters in June, at the location where they hatched in Northeast Poland, in the Knyszyńska forest. Though his brother stayed nearby their nest in a range of 130 km, this White-tailed Eagle left Poland in September and flew 800 km until it arrived to Romania. From all tagged White-tailed Eagles from Poland this was the only one which didn`t spend the winter within polish borders.
Based upon the precise data we managed to find the bird. By the time we got to it, he was unfortunately already dead. Though the location is a good hunting area, often visited by Imperial Eagles – a rarely seen species in our country – it`s dangerous for raptors because there are many medium voltage power lines on this land. The unsuitable, uninsulated pylons are deadly to birds who use these places for roosting or perching. Medium voltage pylons especially threaten large sized birds such as raptors and storks, as when resting on the cross beams of the pylon their long wings can easily collide with the 20000 volt power lines, the shock of which can kill them.
This White-tailed Eagle became the victim of such a pylon accident. Most European countries, like Hungary are incomparably far ahead of Romania in the insulation of middle voltage lines to make them safer for birds. Here unfortunately only nature conservation projects provide financial support, meaning just short segments of power lines are insulated. Although small, these have already proved crucial for local bird populations. On a national level however, we can`t expect civil organizations and other entities working in nature conservation to provide these sources. Instead, it is necessary that it is done by the electricity transmission operator companies which maintain and operate these electric lines.
Based upon estimations, in Romania each year 100 000 birds become victims of electrocution, making it one of Romania’s most serious threats to nature. As the case of White-tailed Eagle from Poland shows, this problem endangers not only Romanian birds but migratory birds as well. What is more telling than the life story of this unlucky bird, who flew 800 km traversing Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary, without anything happening to him. And in Romania he could only fly 400 metres…