Raptor Conservation in Hungary

The World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls



János Bagyura1 and Laszlo Haraszthy2 (Oral)

Status of Birds of Prey and Owls in Hungary

The occurrence of 383 bird species is verified today in Hungary. Out of them 212 species are nesting in Hungary.

Among them there are 34 species are birds of prey. 21 species are nesting and 13 are winter visitors, migrants or rare vagrants. All of them protected, 16 species are strictly protected.

The occurrence of 11 species of Owl is verified in Hungary. 8 species are nesting and 3 species are rare vagrants.

MME/BirdLife Hungary is continuously monitoring the changes of these species’ populations in co-operation with the State Nature Conservancy.

We have prepared Species Action Plans to protect them. Most attention is given to White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), Saker (Falco cherrug).

Our presentation is focussing on the result of monitoring and species protection.

MME/BirdLife Hungary, 1121 Budapest, KöltĄ u. 21

1. Email: bagyura.janos@freemail.hu

2. Email: haraszthy@mail2.ktm.hu

János Bagyura1, Tamás Szitta2, István Sándor3, Levente Viszló 4, (Oral)

Gábor Firmánszky2, Balázs Forgách5, Sándor Boldogh6 and Iván Demeter1

A Review of Measures taken against Bird Electrocution in Hungary

The total length of middle-voltage powerlines in Hungary exceeds 50 000 km. The estimated number of particularly dangerous poles amounts to about 100 000. The problem of electrocution of large birds on electric powerlines in Hungary first became apparent in 1980, when more than 25 raptor carcasses and a big number of crows were found under a short section of a 20 kV powerline in Hajdú-Bihar county. More victims have been found every year since then. To tackle the problem MME and the main electricity provider of Hungary developed an insulator by 1991, which tool is regularly used since then to make poles safe for birds. With the voluntary cooperation of electricity providers over 20 000 poles have been insulated between 1991 and 2002. Though this cooperation with providers is good, no initiatives have been taken yet to find ultimate solutions to the problem, and providers tend to think that the current practice is the ultimate solution. To stop the electrocution of birds once and for all, new legislation is needed, which would oblige electricity companies to apply a bird-friendly pole design in new constructions and to retrofit their existing poles.

1. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, MME BirdLife Hungary, 1121 Bp. Költő u.21

 Email: bagyura.janos@freemail.hu or divan00@axelero.hu

2. Bükki Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság, 3304 Eger, Sánc u. 6.

3. Hortobágyi Természetvédelmi és Génmegőrző Kht. 4071 Hortobágy, Czinege János u. 1.

4. Pro Vértes Közalapítvány, 8083 Csákvár, Kenderesi u. 33.

5. Körös-Maros Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság, 5540 Szarvas, Anna liget

6. Aggteleki Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság, 3758 Jósvafő, Tengerszem oldal 1.

János Bagyura1, Tamás Szitta2 , László Haraszthy3, Iván Demeter1, (Oral)

István Sándor4, Miklós Dudás5, György Kállay1, Levente Viszló6

Population Trend of the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in Hungary between 1980 and 2002

In 1980 the Saker Falcon population was at a critical stage in Hungary. 8 pairs in 13 territories were known. Conservation efforts to save the species in Hungary included nest guarding, construction of artificial nests, insulation of electric poles and cooperation with stakeholder groups. The efforts resulted in a significant expansion of the area inhabited by the species in Hungary. Though there were fluctuations between years, a steady increase of the population could be observed till 2002, reaching 113-145 pairs by today. During the period in question 970 breeding attempts have been recorded, while in total 2553 young birds fledged. The total number of unsuccessful breeding attempts amounted to 226. Average breeding success varied between 2.0 and 3.7 fledglings/successful nest/year. While the population expanded into the mostly agricultural lowland areas, the mountain habitats have been abandoned with the exception of 6-8 nest sites. Most of the lowland pairs breed in artificial nests, which are renovated almost on a yearly basis. In this way the population depends largely on ongoing conservation efforts. Expected land use changes are feared to adversely affect the population in the future.

1. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, MME BirdLife Hungary, 1121 Bp. Költő u. 2 1

 Email: bagyura.janos@freemail.hu  divan00@axelero.hu  Tel: +36 30 525 4070 (Iván Demeter)

2. Bükki Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság, 3304 Eger, Sánc u. 6. Tel: +36 36 411 581

3. Környezetvédelmi és Vízügyi Minisztérium Természetvédelmi Hivatala, 1121 Budapest, Költő u. 21.

4. Hortobágyi Természetvédelmi és Génmegőrző Kht. 4071 Hortobágy, Czinege János u. 1.

5. Hortobágyi Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság, 4024 Debrecen, Sumen u. 2. Tel.: +36 52 529 934

6. Pro Vértes Közalapítvány, 8083 Csákvár, Kenderesi u. 33

János Bagyura, Iván Demeter, László Haraszthy, Antal Klébert, (Oral)

István Sándor, Béla Solti, Tamás Szitta, Miklós Váczi, Levente Viszló

Comparison of Saker (Falco cherrug) Predation during and after the breeding period

Sakers (Falco cherrug) are monogamous birds often hunting together in pairs even after the breeding period. Usually the female eats first from the prey. Sakers change hunting strategy seasonally according to the available prey. Therefore the composition of food changes too.

Suslic (Citellus citellus), Doves (Columba sp) and Starling (Sturnus vulgaris ) are the most common prey during the breeding period. Breeding pairs often specialise on certain prey common around the nest, like suslic. Feeding changes completely in the winter because doves and starlings are migrating and the suslic is hibernating, therefore domestic pigeons and migrant bird species become the prey. Meadow mouse (Microtus arvalis) is the common winter prey for those juveniles that were fed on suslic. Both old and juvenile birds often seize prey from Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) in winter.

The presentation includes observation data on prey of two pairs of Sakers during the breeding period and also on autumn and winter prey.

MME/BirdLife Hungary, 1121 Budapest, Költő u. 21. Email: mme@mme.hu

Laszlo Bank, Zoltan Horvath, Bela Kalocsa and Eniko Tamas (Oral)

Status of the White-tailed Eagle ( Haliaeetus albicilla) in Hungary in 2003

As part of the White-tailed Eagle Conservation Programme of the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Protection Society (MME) we have been carrying out investigations since 1987. The study area covers the whole of Hungary. The survey is carried out by the members of the MME working in different regions. The Programme is co-ordinated by one of the authors. In order to map White-tailed Eagle nests the participants of the Programme perform thorough field excursions all year round. From the analysis of nesting data the distribution of the White-Tailed Eagle population in Hungary and the population trends can be determined. Preferred nesting habitats and wintering grounds can be outlined. We have determined the threatening factors from the viewpoint of nesting as well as wintering. The most threatening factor from the viewpoint of nesting is evidently forestry. Apart from nesting threats, high voltage electric poles can be considered as the most important affecting factor. As a conclusion from analysis of the collected data we can state that the population is stableand the number of breeding pairs is increasing.

Correspondence to: Tamas Eniko, H-6500 Baja, Apaczai Csere J. u. 8, Hungary.

Tel: + 36 30 565 1747  Email: et@baja.hu

Miklós Dudás1 , István Sándor2 and Szabolcs Solt3 (Oral)

Conservation and Monitoring of the Saker (Falco cherrug) Population in the Hortobagy region of Hungary between 1984-2001

Our paper summarizes the status of the Saker Falcon, and the results of an 18-year long population survey and artificial nest placement project in the Hortobágy National Park. In the mid-eighties we started an artificial nest placement project to promote the settlement of the species. Since 1984 a total of 35 artificial nests were placed on suitable trees and from the mid-nineties 14 additional metal trays were placed 750 and 400 kV electric pylons above all for Sakers. The birds occupied 18 artificial nests placed on trees (51%) at which successful breeding was accomplished in 15 nests (43%). Regarding the 14 metal trays placed on pylons all were occupied with successful breeding attempts (100%). Between 1989-2001 the population size of the Saker in the Hortobágy increased from 1 to 22 breeding pairs, at least partly as the result of our artificial nest placement activities. We observed the most successful breeding in the metal trays placed on the high-voltage electric pylons. The number of fledged young from metal trays was more than twofold greater than that of the artificial nests placed on trees.

1. Hortobágy National Park Directorate, 4024 Debrecen, Sumen u. 2.

2. Hortobágyi Természetvédelmi és GénmegĄrzĄ Kht. 4071 Hortobágy, Czinege János u. 1.

3. St. Stephen Univ. Dept. of Wildlife Biology and Management, Páter Károly u.1, 2103 Gödöllő, Hungary.

 Email: soltsz@ns.vvt.gau.hu

Imre Fatér1 and László Tóth2 (Oral)

Conservation of Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) in Hungary especially in agricultural habitat

The traditional habitats of Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) like wetlands and swamps were dramatically reduced by drainage during the last century in Hungary. Because of the reduced habitat a new nesting strategy has developed. Cereals, especially winter wheat became the preferred nesting site of birds that lost their traditional habitat. Nesting site preference is changing year by year, therefore the number of endangered nests are changing also. Harvesters usually kill the unfledged chicks. These endangered chicks can be fledged if nests are located and fenced around within a small protection zone. We intensively studied the nesting of Montagu’s Harriers in the Borsodi plain between 1995-2000. We found 44 nests during this six years period. 68,2% of them were in cereals, while 31,8% were found in their traditional habitat. 72 chicks were fledged from 23 nests (52.2%). Out of these, 59 chicks were from 19 nests in cereals and 13 chicks from 4 nests in traditional habitats. 19 nests (25%) were destroyed by predators, 5 nests (11.4%) were destroyed by extreme weather, 3 nests (6.8%) were destroyed by harvesters, in one nest (2.2%) all eggs were rotten and the result unknown in one other nest (2.2%).

Considerable monitoring was done in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok- end Komárom- County too.

1. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület / BirdLife Hungary H-1121 Budapest, KöltĄút. 21

 Email: fater.imre@axelero.hu

2. Bükk National Park Directorate, H-3300 Eger, Sánc út 6.

Ákos Klein1, Tibor Nagy2, Tibor Csörgo3 and Robert Matics4 (Poster)

Using Ring-recapture Data in Barn Owl Tyto alba Conservation

Our initial presumption was that breeding in nest boxes and in natural nest sites (church-towers, barns etc.) can influence the growth and survival of owlets. We will try to prove our hypothesis by evaluating ringing data.

From the results we concluded the followings: (1) Owlets are ringed in nest-boxes in a higher proportion while adults tend to be ringed in natural nest sites. (2) In the case of adults the proportion of recaptured birds that were ringed in nest-boxes and those ringed in natural sites does not change. However, young individuals hatched in natural breeding sites are recovered in greater proportion. (3) In all cases of recoveries within 40, 70, 100 and 300 days it can be proved that owlets hatched in nest-boxes are found dead in a larger proportion than the others. (4) Considering all examined intervals, only the periods of 0-40 and 0-70 demonstrate the difference mentioned under point (3). (5) Considering all data individuals hatched in nest-boxes are found alive at larger distances than their contemporaries originating from natural breeding sites. This difference disappears with the exclusion of 0-km-data.

1. Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences, Department of Zoology, Pázmány P. sétány 1/c., H-1117 Budapest, Hungary.

 Tel: + 36 20 322 5620  Email: akso@freemail.hu

2. Hungarian Barn Owl Protection Foundation, Szilágyi E. fasor 61., H-1026 Budapest, Hungary.

 Tel: + 36 30 377 3411  Email: ntgyba@freemail.hu

3. Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences, Department of Zoology, Pázmány P. sétány 1/c., H-1117 Budapest, Hungary.

 Tel: + 36 1 20 90 555 /8634  Email: csorgo@ludens.elte.hu

4. University of Pécs, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, H-7601 Pécs, Ifjúság u.6.,Hungary.

 Tel: + 36 20 945 2262  Email: bobmatix@freemail.hu

Szabolcs Solt1 and Miklós Dudás2 (Poster)

Differences in Territory Defence, Hunting Success and Food Composition of two Large Falco Species

We studied the nest defence, hunting behaviour and food composition of the Saker (Falco cherrug) and the Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) during the breeding season in 1-1 pairs. The studied Peregrine pair was amongst the first to reoccupy its former breeding grounds in Hungary. Observations were made from the incubation period up to the fledging of young. Both pairs occupied cliff nests in the northern hilly region (4-600 m high) of Hungary. We divided the breeding season into three periods: 1. incubation, 2. parental care I (i.e. the first two weeks after hatching), 3. parental care II (i.e. from the third week to fledging of young). There were no significant differences in nest defence between the two species, however, when comparing the hunting success between the species regarding the same sex, we found significant differences in the period of parental care 3. The Peregrine male was more effective than the Saker male while considering the females the Saker was more effective Peregrine female hunted in the period of parental care 3 only. Regarding the Saker, nestling diet consisted of mainly pigeons and other smaller bird species which indicates a presumably negative change in the hunting behaviour of the species.

1. St. Stephen University, Dept. of Wildlife Biology and Management, Páter Károly u. 1., 2103 Gödöllo, Hungary

2. Hortobágy National Park Directorate, Sumen u. 2., 4024 Debrecen, Hungary

Szabolcs Solt1, Károly Erdélyi2, Péter Fehérvári3 and Reuven Yosef4 (Oral)

Hatching Rank influences Nutritional Condition in the Raptors of the Hortobagy region: evidence from ptilochronology and biometrics

It is generally assumed that the nestlings that hatch first in a clutch are also the ones that access prey provisioned by the parents more easily and in greater quantities than their siblings. In order to check this theory we monitored several clutches of four raptor species Buzzard (Buteo buteo; n = 6), Saker (Falco cherrug; n = 3) Kestrel (F. tinnunculus; n = 1) and Red-footed Falcon (F. vespertinus; n = 1), that breed in the Hortobagy region, Hungary, during the 2002-breeding season. In order to check if indeed hatching order influenced growth rate. We observed the hatching order of the nestlings and prior to fledgling we measured the central rectrix length, tarsus length and body mass of the entire brood. Further, in order to evaluate their relative nutritional condition, we clipped the central rectrix to conduct a blind Ptilochronology test. In the Buzzard (n = 21 nestlings) the average central rectrix was 69.48+16.8SD mm, tarsus length 76.95+4.52 mm, body mass 824.9+91.61 g, and the average growth bar 4.05+0.48 mm/day. In the Saker (n = 11) the average central rectrix was 77.99+16.0 mm, tarsus length was 58.97+1.98 mm, body mass was 1025.5+103.69 g, and the average growth bar was 4.1+0.3 mm/day. Owing to the low sample size of the Falco species, we evaluated the differences in the hatching order of the Buzzards and compared their relative nutritional condition. We found that the first hatchling is also the one to be in the best nutritional condition and to have the widest growth bars (76.5mm + 11.4, n = 6), as compared to the second (74.8 + 18.1, n = 6) or the third (69.8 + 19.1, n = 4) hatchling in the brood. Our data corroborate previous information that the earlier hatchling dominates the prey delivered by the parents. This is the first time that evidence is presented by a non-invasive technique to quantify the relative differences between siblings from the same brood.

1. St. Stephen University, Department of Wildlife Biology and Management, 2103, Páter K. st. 1. Gödöllő, Hungary;

2. Central Vetrinarian Institute, 1109, Tábornok st. 2., Budapest, Hungary;

3. 1037, Erdőalja st. 11, Budapest, Hungary;

4. International Birding & Research Centre in Eilat, P. O. Box 774, Eilat 88000, Israel.

Tamás Deme, Béla Kalocsa and Tamas Eniko (Oral)

Population Changes of the White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in the lower Hungarian Danube Valley, 1987 - 2003.

Within the frame of the White-tailed Eagle Conservation Programme of the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Protection Society we have been carrying out investigations since 1987 in the study area. The study area is the most frequented nesting habitat of the species in Hungary. and covers the Danube stretch between Dunaföldvár and the southern country border, the Danube valley from Fajsz to the border and the Danube regions of the Danube-Drava National Park. It contains the southwesternmost parts of the Kiskunsági National Park area. We have collected and analysed nesting and wintering data for 16 years. From the analysis of nesting data the extreme site fidelity of White-tailed Eagles can clearly be seen. As a conclusion from analysis of the collected data we can state that the population is stable and the number of breeding pairs is increasing. We have determined the main threat factors and the population trends. We stress that co-operation with the neighbouring countries is imperative. As White-tailed Eagles evidently prove, the Danube valley as habitat does not end at the country's border, and their protection is a task that can only be fulfilled by long-term international co-operation based on unified attitudes and methodology.

Correspondence to: Tamas Eniko, H-6500 Baja, Apaczai Csere J. u. 8, Hungary.

Tel: + 36 30 565 1747  Email: et@baja.hu

Péter Palatitz and László Tóth (Oral)

Diet Variations of three Sympatric Raptor Species in relation to Small Rodent Densities

We studied the composition of nestling diet of three common raptor species in Hungary during 2000-2001. We analysed more than 1400 food remains collected from 76 nests. We found that in 2000 the diet diversity of Goshawk (H=-1.60; Shannon index) was significantly lower than that of the Buzzard (H=-2.05) or of the Marsh Harrier (H=-2.04). In 2001 the diet breadth of Goshawk (H=-1.75) slightly increased, while in the case of Buzzard (H=-1.18) and Marsh Harrier (H=-1.23) it significantly decreased in comparison with the previous year values. In 2001, owing to these changes, the diet diversity of Goshawk became significantly higher than either of the other two species. In 2000 the similarities in the diet of the three raptors were rather low, the Renkonen's index varied between 0.65 and 0.68, while in 2001 we found a great similarity in the diet of Buzzard and Marsh Harrier (S=0.91). The changes in diets can be explained by the rapid population rise of Common Vole observed during 2001. That year the proportion of rodents in the diet of Buzzard and Marsh Harrier was about 80% contrary to the 18-26% of the previous year. Further considerable changes were the decrease in consumption rate of birds (37% to 11%) and of small game species (21% to 4%).

St. Stephen Univ. Dept. of Wildlife Biology and Management, Páter Károly u.1, 2103 Gödöllő, Hungary

Email: ltoth@ns.vvt.gau.hu

László Tóth1 and Péter Palatitz2 (Oral)

Effect of Rodent Cycles on the Reproduction of Buzzard and Goshawk

Reproduction of Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and the variations in abundance osmall mammals were studied in Hungary during 2000-2002. Significant differences in reproductive parameters among the three years were found in Buzzard only. Number eggs laid, hatched and fledged young were significantly greater in 2001 than in 2000, while there were no differences between 2001 and 2002. The density of rodents was low in 2000. During 2001 the amount of small mammals increased twofold and stayed at the same high level in 2002. These changes were reflected in the prey choice of Buzzard as well. Buzzards fed their young almost exclusively on Common Vole during 2001 and 2002, while regarding the year of 2000 that prey type did not exceed 20% in the diet. Nestling diet of Goshawk did not change considerably during the three years. The significantly greater reproductive success of Buzzards in 2001 could be resulted by the rapid population rise of Common Vole, while its neutral effect on the reproduction of Goshawk indicates that the population dynamics of that raptor species is not so closely related to rodent cycles as happened in the Buzzard.

St. Stephen Univ. Dept. of Wildlife Biology and Management, Páter Károly u.1, 2103 Gödöllő, Hungary

Email: ltoth@ns.vvt.gau.hu



© 2003 CTM