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    SERBIA --- Distribution and population status --- Nefative factors --- Who... --- What have we done  

Distribution and population status

Information about Saker Falcons in Serbia before 1950 is scarce. There are only few records available located along the Rivers Danube and Sava (n=5). The small number of Saker observation was most probably due to lack of research in that period. However this indicates that riparian forests, wetlands and open spaces around them were important Saker Falcon haunts. This was confirmed later (1951-1980) with finding of a number of breeding pairs along the two big rivers (n=17) (Puzovic in litt.).

  Former Saker Falcon Distribution
along Sava and Danube Rivers
(Puzovic in litt.)

The situation changed with building of high voltage electricity lines in Serbia in the end of 1970’s. The pylons provided new nesting places for Ravens and they started breeding on them quickly with first record in 1979. Several years later, in early 1980’s, Saker Falcons were recorded for the first time nesting in Raven nest on pylons (two records: in Banat and Srem). Population estimate in 1980’s is 15-40 pairs (Vasic et al., 1985; Meyburg & Meyburg, 1987) with most of Sakers breeding on trees. Currently there are over 9000 km high voltage power lines in Serbia (Puzovic, 2008). The adoption of power line support structures as nesting sites has resulted in Saker Falcons occupying lowland agriculture areas where alternative nesting sites are limited (Dixon, 2007).
The population increased to 55-60 in 2008 (M. Tucakov in litt.) with Saker’s breeding range concentrated in the plains of Vojvodina Province but there are several breeding season observations from highland plateau steppes in the southeast. Nowadays 90 % of the Sakers in Serbia use the electric transmission line for nesting. (Puzovic, 2008; Ham & Puzovic, 2000).
It is believed that Sakers largely disappeared from the riparian habitats (S. Puzovic) as it is the case in other parts of central Europe e.g. Hungary (Bagyura et al., 2006). However other authors suggest that it is not clear if the 15-40 pairs of Sakers that bred mainly in trees in the 1980’s have disappeared, switched to nesting in nearby electric pylons or have remained, largely unrecorded, breeding in their traditional haunts. It is also possible, given the paucity of information from natural nesting sites, that the increase in pairs breeding on power line structures over the last 20 years has also been reflected in an increase in the population occupying tree-nest sites in the wooded farmlands (i.e. Dixon, 2007).

Negative factors

Decrease in grazing animal stock followed by decline of a main prey-species population (European Sousliks Spermophilus citellus) is a local negative factor for Saker Falcons in Serbia e.g. in Fruska Gora (Nagy & Demeter, 2006).

Afforestation is another negative factor taking place in the Deliblato Sand Plains where it caused decreasing of Saker breeding population (Ham, 1980; Puzovic, 2000).

Yong Saker Falcon perched on its “nesting electricity pylon”.
© Bird Study and Protection Society of Vojvodina


SESN partners in Serbia are the Bird Study and Protection Society of Vojvodina (coordinator), League for Ornithological Action – Belgrade, Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia and Provincial Secretariat for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development. The team is lead by Dr. Slobodan Puzovic and Marko Tucakov.

Project team: Dragan Simić, Marko Tucakov, Lorand Vig, Marko Raković, Goran Sekulić, Čaba Verebelji, Ištvan Balog, Jožef Gergelj, Oto Sekereš, Marko Šćiban, Dimitrije Radišić, Antun Žuljević, Dejan Đapić, Milan Ružić, Milivoj Vučanović, Nikola Stojnić, Marko Sciban.

What have we done

Survey. Three consecutive years (2007-2009) we were doing intensive surveys in north Serbia. In results we assessed the population in Vojvodina to be about 50-55 breeding pairs. After the increase of the population from 1980’s we now observe population stabilizing in Serbia.


Saker Falcon monitoring scheme
in Vojvodina, Serbia
(Tucakov in litt.)
Saker breeding habitat in Banat region.
© Bird Study and Protection Society of Vojvodina
Artificial nest program. The activity is implemented in cooperation with Electricity Company „Public Enterprise Elektromreza Srbije“. Several dozens of wooden nest boxes were set in Vojvodina in order to provide stable nest sites for Saker Falcons.

Artificial nests for Saker falcons
in Vojvodina. © Bird Study and Protection Society of Vojvodina


Artificial nests for Saker falcons in Vojvodina.
© Bird Study and Protection Society of Vojvodina

Artificial nests for Saker falcons in Vojvodina.
© Bird Study and Protection Society of Vojvodina
Saker diet. Diet study was conducted in 2007 and 2008 breeding season. Pellets and prey remains were collected by non-invasive way from the ground around the nest. The analysis of the samples showed that Pigeons Columba sp. and European Hamster Cricetus cricetus are key prey species with 39,22% and 33,33% respectively (estimated as number of specimens found in pellets and prey remains), followed by Passerines Passeriformes with 19,61%. Detail report is available for download from here: Saker Falcon Diet in Serbia Based on Analysis of Pellets and Prey Remains – SESN Report.
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