Europe and Central Asia
4 Dec 2017

Fly with Greater spotted eagles!

© D. Shamovich
By Anna Trofimtchouk

Eight Greater spotted Eagles tagged in southern Belarus started their autumn migration in September. Now you can watch them online!

 

Where do birds go in winter?” – as children, all of us probably asked our parents this question. Now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the answer is but a click away. This year, APB-BirdLife Belarus invites you to fly alongside – not one, not two…but eight – Greater spotted eagles throughout their autumn migration.

This is part of a new Estonian-Belarusian project to fill the knowledge gap in the ecology and protection of this globally threatened species.[1] The project has two main objectives: firstly, to investigate migration routes, wintering areas, and both per-day and per-season activity information (with the help of satellite transmitters); and secondly, to establish how often hybrid couples of Greater spotted eagle and Lesser spotted eagle can be found in Belarus, using genetic methods. 

 

All over the map

Belarus, after Russia, is the second most important country in the world for Greater spotted eagles with some 120-160 pairs. This summer, a group of Estonian and Belarusian ornithologists caught and tagged eight adult Greater spotted eagles with GPS-GSM satellite tags in several Belarusian IBAs (Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas), including the Mid Prypiac reserve and Belavezhskaia Puschcha national park.[2] The data for all eight birds is now available on APB’s website which is regularly updated with the most recent movements. We can see now that our feathered friends have already reached their wintering grounds in Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Sudan.

 

© D. Shamovich

 

Picking favourites

Each bird has a name and its very own story. Blond, for example, is named after its distinctive light “hairstyle” – very unusual for a Greater spotted eagle. Meanwhile, Tur is a proper home-town boy, named after the town of Turau. We’ve already noticed that many APB members, following the birds’ progress on our website, are picking their favourite bird to cheer on.

© D. Kitel

Record-setting ringers!

This tracking project is just one of many national initiatives to protect this iconic species. At the ‘Save the eaglet’ event this year, ornithologists inspected nests and ringed nestlings all over Belarus – setting a new record of 22 ringed nestlings. This high amount of nestlings is very promising as it shows that 2017 was a successful breeding year. It is now hoped that the ringing will help us gain more information about the movements of young birds and not only adults.

 

The BIG question

Our scientists are closely watching the birds’ movements in the hope of finally finding the answer to an age-old question: why do Greater Spotted Eagles, nesting in the vast swamps of Central Paliessie, arrive almost a month earlier than their “colleagues” from northern Belarus.

Stay tuned for the answer!

 

 

Anna Trofimtchouk - Deputy Director, APB - BirdLife Belarus


[1] The ‘Scientific conservation of the globally endangered Greater spotted eagle in Belarus’ project is a joint initiative conducted by the Estonian University of Life Sciences, APB-BirdLife Belarus, the Eagle Club (Estonia) and the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. The project is funded by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[2] APB-BirdLife Belarus would like to thank Phil Atkinson from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) for arranging the donation of two satellite transmitters used in the project.

 


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.