The rarest Falcon has returned after 40 years!

UPR91A0163Unbelievable. A Red-footed Falcon nest has been found near Trnava (Western Slovakia) after 40 years. This species is endangered by extinction in the country. These pair is one of only three known pairs in the whole territory of Slovakia. All of the three pairs are being visited regularly and guarded. The last evidence of nesting of the species from this region dates up to 1970s.

„Our colleague, operating in the region, has reported an observation of the pair. We have visited the site and after two days of searching we found a pair of these beautiful bird using an abandoned Magpie nest. I was very happy to observe the male bringing food to the female on the nest. I have been doing the monitoring of the species over 30 years and remember the nesting of more than 60 pairs in our country about 20 years ago. However the species has fade away from our countryside, especially due to the intensive agriculture, connected with significant changes of habitats and loss of biodiversity, resulting in decrease of prey offer. Therefore, to see these birds at this new site was something very strong and unbelievable.“ – says Jozef Chavko, who found the nest (Raptor Specialist in Red-footed Falcon LIFE project).

Roman Slobodník, RPS Scientific Co-ordinator of a project focused on the conservation of the species (implemented since 2012 together with Hungarian colleagues, with the support of European Commission under LIFE+ programme) informs: „After discovery of the nest we realised that the local farmers new about successful nesting of Red-footed Falcon around 1970. They recognized the species very well from other birds and named it the „Smoke Falcon“ because of the typical colour of the male.“

„In Hungary the population has reached 1200 – 1300 pairs, thanks to the conservation programmes and it keeps growing. We hope that by the implementation of the project, especially by improving of the nesting and feeding opportunities, the Red-footed Falcon will return. Our population could be donated with the Hungarian pairs. Out of three known nests two pairs are breeding in a Magpie nest. The Falcons do not build their own nests, so they need other species to build the nests for them or they use nest boxes installed by people. This fact is especially important for the efforts to protect species like the Rook, Magpie or the Crow, having high importance for the Falcon. Disappearance of Rook colonies from the countryside and persecution of Magpies results in decrease of natural nesting opportunities, what surely contributed to the unfavourable status of Red-footed Falcon population in Slovakia. We might say that the discovery of this nest near Trnava has the same meaning for us as the Higgs boson has for the physicists.“ - says Lucia Deutschová, the Country Project Co-ordinator for RPS.

More about LIFE11 NAT/HU/000926 Conservation of Red-footed Falcon in Carpathian basin project can be found on www.falcoproject.eu.

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Further information:

Lucia Deutschová, 00421 911 219 520

Roman Slobodník 00421 907 026 107

Jocha 08052014 UPR91A0015
UPR91A0158 UPR91A0227

Foto: Jozef Chavko