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Short outcomes of the Saker Falcon reintroduction project in Southere Siberia

In summer 2017 a pilot project on population recovery of Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) was conducted in Altai-Sayan region of Russia. Ten 20-27 days old falcons of “Altaic” morph from a breeding center “Vitasphera” were placed in nests of wild falcons of other color morphs. Video-recording revealed no aggression between native and non-native nestlings, as well as no aggression from adult birds towards non-native nestlings despite obvious differences between native and non-native nestlings in color and sometimes in size. One non-native nestling was killed by an Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) together with a native nestling from the same nest, the other 9 introduced nestlings successfully fledged.

Several native nestlings from the broods under study also died by natural reasons. Two nestlings died in a nest built on an open platform located on a concrete pole in an open steppe landscape away from shelterbelts. The brood consisted of 4 native and 2 introduced nestlings – 6 in total. One nestling with growing feathers felt down from the nest and died from starvation, another one – fully fledged and flying – was killed by a bigger raptor near the nest. One more native nestling (of natural “Altaic” phenotype!) from a brood of 7 nestlings (5 native and 2 introduced) died in the nest located on a platform on a poplar tree. The reason for death is unknown. It could be either infection or poisoning since the nestling was already fledged and ready to fly and it corpse had no sign of starvation

We made an interesting estimation on nestling losses in one field area with 3 nests of the Saker (17 nestlings including 4 non-natives) and 8 nests of the Black Kite (16 nestlings). In Saker losses were only 17.6% and 5.9% – were killed by predators. In Kite, nestling losses were 100%! All nestlings died, and the main reason was predating by the other raptors including Saker.

Three nestlings (one non-native male and two native – male and female) were tagged with GPS/GSM backpack trackers produced by Ecotone (Poland) for the further observation of their migration. Unfortunately, we lost contact with non-native male due to tracker breakdown. And one native nestling with tracker was killed on July 16 during the Eagle Owl attack – the same Eagle Owl that killed his siblings on the nest earlier. Thus, only one falcon out of three – a native female is in touch until now.

Before Eagle Owl’s attack both native male and female stay in the nesting area and did not cross the 4 km distance from the nest. Female covered area of 8.3, male covered 5.3 On July 16 both of them spent the night on a small cliff in 300 meters from the nest. The male was attacked and predated by an Eagle Owl, and the female left the nesting area and began her first journey heading to the mountains of Mongolia.

The conclusions of the project are the following:

1. Introducing Saker’s nestlings to the native broods is a good method for their integration into the wild. In the situation of an abundance of prey broods of 6 nestlings could survive without making harm to the smallest nestlings; in the case of prey storage, supplementary feeding could fix the problem.

2. The nest of an adoptive pair should be selected well. Preferably it should be remote from nests of other big raptors, especially from Eagle Owl’s nests.

3. If it is not possible to select a nest located distantly from nests of other raptors then supplemental feeding of other raptor’s brood could solve the issue of predating young falcons by a bigger raptor.

4. For big broods (6-7 nestlings) it is necessary to arrange a big-size nesting platform with a diameter not less than 1.2m with skirting to prevent nestlings from falling from a nest in a storm. It is also preferable to have a nest hidden by a cliff, or a tree, or an artificial construction to protect brood from aerial predators and weather.

The results of this project would be published in the Raptors Conservation journal and in proceedings of the International Conference Falconry: history and modernity (Kazakhstan, 23-24 of November 2017).

Project participants:
Igor Karyakin, Elena Shnayder, Elvira Nikolenko, Mikhail Pchelnikov(RRRCN, Sibecocenter LLC), Ludmila Zinevich (RRRCN, Koltzov Institute of Developmental Biology of Russian Academy of Sciences), Evgeniy Sarychev, Anna Sarycheva (Vitasphera LLC), Irina Beme (Lomonosov Moscow State University)
and Denis Malikov, Alexey Kuzhlekov, Erkin Tadyrov (NP “Saylugemskiy”), Aleksandr Kuksin (State Nature Reserve “Ubsunurskaya kotlovina”)
and volunteers Dmitriy Shtol, Mikhail Zimin, Oleg Andreenkov, Natalia Andreenkova

The project was supported by WWF Russia, Altai-Sayan Branch, Corporation Siberian Health, The Altai Project/Earth Island Institute, Sibecocenter LLC, private sponsors, NP “Saylugemskiy”, State Nature Reserve “Ubsunurskaya kotlovina”, Vitasphera LLC, Ecotone и IAF and GGF.

Previous posts about the project:
20.06.2017. Altai Saker Falcons are tagged by transmitters

09.06.2017. The first project to revive the Saker Falcon in Southern Siberia was launched



  • 2017/08/23 12:45:35


    А как установили, что уже летающего птенца сожрал именно филин?

  • 2017/08/23 14:55:16


    На ночь оба балобана устроились на ночёвку рядом друг с другом, но за полчаса до рассвета (в то же время, в которое филин совершил атаку на птенцов ранее) сигнал от одного балобана пришёл с филинячьей присады и пропал. На присаде остались лишь пушины филина и клочки перьев, выдернутые из балобана. Даже Шерлоком Холмсом не надо быть, чтобы понять что произошло

  • 2018/11/01 14:12:55


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