WWF Russia successfully continues the project of Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) restoration in Southern Siberia
This summer 19 chicks that hatched in captivity were delivered to the nests of the wild Saker falcon and carefully put into them. All wild pairs of birds became “foster” parents for the chicks, fed them well and did not distinguish between their native chicks and the “foster” chicks.
The project is implemented by WWF Russia in partnership with Russian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, Sibecocentre NGO with support of World around Foundation of Siberian Corporation. Two rare birds’ nurseries of Russia (Vitasphere in Moscow and Altai-Falcon in Barnaul) provided WWF and the partners with the chicks. Unfortunately, due to the late spring of this year it was hard to find enough chicks because lots of eggs remained unfertilized.
At the beginning of June 19 chicks were carefully delivered to the regions of Siberia by plane and by car. The ornithologists do to reveal the exact areas of the project not to draw the attention of poachers.
This year the project was implemented considering the experience from the last year when the project started. For instance, last year the owl who inhabited the are close to one of the nests killed two chicks, one native and one from captivity. In some areas the prey was so scarce that this year there was no point in choosing these areas for project implementation. This spring all nests had been carefully studied and the area explored before the chicks were placed into the nests. The experts chose the area with artificially platforms that had been made a long before as a part of another project to provide Saker falcons with enough nesting places. Some artificial platforms were also repaired This year only three of ten nests demanded the additional food that was provided by the ornithologist through just placing mice and other food into the nests.
The ornithologists fixed the cameras on six of ten nests after all chicks have been placed. It helped monitor the birds behaviour, chicks condition and the need for additional food. By the end of June most of the chicks already left the nests and parents continue feeding them near the nests.
The cameras on the nests help the ornithologists watch the birds.
The Saker falcon is a large falcon which inhabits the vast areas of Eurasia. The Saker is an excellent hunter and unfortunately is a favorite hunting bird of Eastern falconers. For centuries falconry connoisseurs have been inspired by the beauty of the Saker’s attacks on large birds – capable of high speeds, the falcon takes off at an acute angle, flies upwards a few metres before plummeting sharply, almost vertically, and striking its victim with all claws thrust in front of its strained legs.
Just 40 years ago the Saker falcon inhabited the large areas of desert, steppe and forest steppe zones from Austria and Bulgaria to the Far East. Today, the once common species, whose numbers were estimated in the tens of thousands of pairs, has become extremely rare, with current worldwide numbers not exceeding 15 thousand pairs.
The Saker falcon restoration project in Russia is implemented by Russian Raptor Research and Conservation Network and Sibecocentre NGO in partnership with Altai-Sayan Programme of WWF Russia, World Around Foundation of Siberian Corporation, Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina Nature Reserve, Sailugemsky National Park, Khakassky Nature Reserve, Vitapshere and Altai-falcon rare birds’ nurseries, The Altai Project/Earth Island Institute, Ecotone и Herman Ottó Institute (Hungary).