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    ROMANIA --- Who... --- Historical status --- What have we done --- Current status --- Negative factors --- Papers  


Two organizations were involved in SESN activities in Romania. The first is a team from Danube Delta National Research Institute led by Dr. Alexandru Dorosencu. The second team is from Association for Bird and Nature Protection “Milvus Group” led by Robert Zeitz and Zoltan Domahidi.

Historical status

The Romanian name for Saker is Soim Dunarean /Danubian Falcon/ because it was usually found along the big Danube River. The Saker was spread in the entire country except the Carpathian Mountains in the beginning of 20 century. In the mountains it is found very rarely. The Saker was frequently seen bird, especially on the islets and forests of the Danube Valley and in the Danube Delta (Lintia, 1954; Reiser, 1894). Southeast Romania (Dobrudzha) was another stronghold of the species in the past (Sintenis, 1877; Floericke, 1918).

  Distribution of Saker in Romania at the begining of 20th century (Dorosencu in litt.)

What have we done

Survey work 2007: Large scale survey was conducted in 2007 in Dobrudzha (SE Romania) aiming to assess the Saker Falcon population in the region. The area was divided into 90 (10x10 km) squares comprising the most proper potential Saker Falcon habitats. 87 of those squares were surveyed by researchers of Milvus Group and Danube Delta National Research Institute. Two methods of survey were used: i) Direct observation from a fixed point; ii) Survey on suitable nesting sites such as electricity power lines, cliffs, solitary trees, mature forest edges.

Results: 6 single birds were observed (5 of which positively identified as adults). Five of the records were in Northern Dobrudzha with only one from Central Dobrudzha. Additionally one pair with flying young was observed suggesting probable breeding in the area (Baba Dag Forest on 11.07.2007).

  Study area in Dobrudzha,
Romania in 2007.
Red circles – area surveyed by
Danube Delta National Research Institute.
Empty squares - area surveyed by Milvus Group.

Survey work 2008: The work was focused on Danube Delta and northern Dobrudzha. Suitable nesting sites such as power lines, heron and cormorant colonies, and White-tailed Eagle nests were explored. Four single birds were observed in the Delta in February, May, June and July from three locations. Three records in North Dobrudzha were made in three different locations – all of them in May.


Danube Delta:
Saker Falcons used White-tailed Eagle nests in the past.
© V. Ferdinandova


The Danube Delta in spring © A. Dorosencu


Monitoring work: Three nests are known in north Dobrudzha. Two of them were revealed in early 2000’s. These are the only known Saker Falcon nests in Romania. During 2007 and 2008 we were doing regular monitoring on the three nests. The breeding territories were active both years, but the breeding success was very low. The breeding success in 2007 was zero (no one of the pairs raised young). In 2008 only one pair managed to produce 2 chicks.

DNA work: Feather samples from the three nests were collected and sent to genetic laboratory in Cardiff University in order to add information about the DNA profile of European Sakers.

Conclusions: Saker Falcons breed regularly but in low numbers in north Dobrudzha (3 pairs confirmed breeding and 1 probable breeding) with extremely low breeding success. The species is present in central Dobrudzha and Danube Delta but only with single bird records.


One of the three known Saker Falcon nests in Romania.
© A. Dorosencu


Northern Dobrudzha, Romania – actual Saker Falcon breeding habitat.
© A. Dorosencu


Current status

Population in Romania was estimated to be 2-12 pairs in 2006. Our recent studies showed that the Saker population in Dobrudzha and Danube Delta might be assessed of 5-15 pairs. The species is regularly recorded during the breeding season in northwest Romania (near Hungarian border). Based on this the breeding population in Romania might be about 15-30 pairs.

  Regions with Saker occurrence
in Romania in 1996-2005.
The red polygones indicate
Saker Falcon sightings
but not its breeding distribution
(Dorosencu in litt.)

Negative factors

Large scale habitat change took place after 1960’s in whole Romania with development of the modern agriculture. The flood plain along Danube was especially affected. It was drained and turned in intensive agriculture land. Similar fate overtook Dobrudzha area, and also the plain northeast from Carpathians. This is considered to be main casual factor for species decline.

Nowadays the few remained Saker Falcon pairs show extremely low breeding success. Casual factors might be related to human disturbance. Two of the Saker nests are located near regularly used rock climber routes. The third pair is located in the vicinity of traditional picnic site intensively used during the incubation period of Sakers. Other possible threats are the birdwatching – all three nests are object of birdwatching tour companies. Nest robbing was also suggested as a reason for nests failure.


Zeitz, R., Darosczi, S. (2007) Results of Saker Falcon in Dobrodgea – 2007. Heliaca 5: 84-88 (In Hungarian with English summary)

SESN is coordinated by:
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Sofia 1113, Yurii Gagarin str. 2
www.ecolab.bas.bg; gsm +359 898 58 55 53; Fax +359 2 870 54 98; e-mail: dimitar.ragyov@gmail.com