June – Month of the Saker Falcon

In the past the saker falcon was one of the many inhabitants and a common sight in the Deliorman region in the north-east Bulgaria, Dobrudzha and along the Danube with hundreds, even thousands, breeding pairs in the country. Unfortunately, by the middle of the 20th century, due to the change in agricultural practices, reduction of pastures, the abundant use of pesticides and hunting practices, the saker falcon population in Bulgaria drastically reduces in numbers to only several dozen couples. Nowadays, the species is still considered endangered with none registered breeding pairs in the country until last year.

In 2008 the Green Balkans team presents a Feasibility study for the reintroduction of saker falcon in Bulgaria, followed by the start of the reintroduction program. A territory was determined for the release of the hatched in captivity saker falcons, with four adaptation aviaries. Six breeding pairs were formed at the Green Balkans Rescue Center aviaries within the reintroduction program, with 68 falcons, 52 of them hatched at the Rescue Center, released through the hacking methodology (through the adaptation aviaries) by 2018.
Soon, the results of all the hard work were evident – In 2018 the first active nest of the species for the last 10 years was registered. Both birds in the pair are hatched at the Green Balkans Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center in 2015.
Now, with 2 successfully reared wild chicks in 2018, we can announce that, after more than 20 years, the saker falcon has returned as a nesting species in Bulgaria. Both parents of the wild chicks are hatched and released from the aviaries 3 years ago within the Green Balkans Rescue Center reintroduction program, implemented with the support of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi – EAD.
Species description: The saker falcon (Falco cherrug Grey, 1834) is the largest falcon species in Bulgaria, with a wingspan of 105-129 cm. The body reaches 47-55 cm and 0.7 – 1.3 kg.
Habitat: In Bulgaria until the 19th century, the species nested mainly in the planes, after the middle 20th century most known nests are within mountainous regions of the country – on rocks and in niches, on turfy rock cornices or in raven nests (like other falcon species, the saker falcon does not build its own nests). The species distribution overlaps the distribution of the souslik – its main prey.
Breeding: The mating flights start at the end of January and the beginning of February. The female lays 3-6 eggs at the end of March, the beginning of April. Hatching continues for 36-38 days and the chicks leave the nest around the 45th-50th day. They stay around the nest for another 30 to 45 days while their parents teach them to hunt. The saker falcon reaches maturity and starts reproducing around the 2nd – 3rd year and is a monogamous species.

How can I help:
  •  You can take part in expeditions for the species research and protection and provide information on observations or signals for captive bred birds, as well as crimes involving falcons or any other birds of prey. Find more information here.
  •  You can take part in the species reintroduction activities in Bulgaria. Find out more information here.
  •  Take part in some of the information activities for the species popularizing. Find out more information here.
  • Or donate for the species protection. Find more information here.
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