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    UKRAINE --- Who... --- Population and distribution dynamics --- What have we done --- Current population status --- Papers  


SESN partner in Ukraine is the Ukrainian Birds of Prey Research Center – the raptor research and conservation authority in the country.

© D. Ragyov
© V. Vetrov
© D. Ragyov

Population and distribution dynamics

Before 1950 the Saker Falcons nested in all of Ukraine besides the Sub-Carpathians and West Polesia and its number ranged between 300 – 500 pairs. The species could be met in Mixed-forest zone and Forest-steppe zone (Northwards) to the Steppe zone and Crimea Mountains (Southwards) (Vetrov et al. in litt.).

Saker Falcon distribution in Ukraine in the beginning of 20 century.
Dark green – mixed forest zone; Light green – Forest steppe zone;
Yellow – Steppe zone; Brown - Crimea Mountains.
Red – Saker Falcons not recorded
(Vetrov et al in litt.) >>>

In the later 20th century the post WWII changes in the agriculture practices and country’s economy affected the species numbers and distribution. Old-growth forests in the north part of the country were cut down and this reduced the nesting opportunities. New agriculture practices started with intensive use of pesticides, thus diminishing the abundance of the Saker main prey (Soulsiks Spermophilus sp.) (Vetrov et al. in litt.). The purge on all raptorial birds in Soviet Union during that period most probably had a negative effect on Saker Falcon population too (Dixon, 2007). During the 1950’s - 1970’s Saker Falcon presence have decreased to 100 pairs. The population was concentrated mainly in the Forest-steppe zones (Vetrov et al. in litt.).
Since 1960 the long-distance electricity power line network has been expanded. Saker Falcons adapted to the new type of nesting places – the high voltage power line pole and pylons. This habit has enabled the Saker to colonize steppe habitats devoid of trees or cliffs.
In the 1980’s - 1990’s the bulk of known Saker Falcon population in Ukraine was located in the Steppe zone instead of the Forest-steppe zone where Saker was mainly recorded earlier. At least 80-90% of known Saker Falcons were using power lines for nesting (Vetrov et al. in litt.).

Saker Falcon breeding habitat in Ukraine.
© V. Vetrov and Y. Milobog
Saker Falcons nesting on power line.
© V. Vetrov and Y. Milobog
  Saker Falcon breeding distribution in Ukraine in 1980’s and 1990’s (Vetrov et al. in litt.). >>>    
Saker Falcon from Ukraine © V. Vetrov and Y. Milobog

What have we done

Ukrainian Birds of Prey Research Center has been carrying out studies on the present state of Saker Falcon in Ukraine since the end of the 1990’s. Last years surveys were supported by EAD in the frame of SESN. In result a total of 218 breeding territories of Saker Falcons were revealed (among them 182 breeding pairs). 84 % of them were located on electricity pylons, 15% on cliffs (mountain rocks and coastal precipices) and 1% on trees (Vetrov et al. in litt.; Vetrov & Milobig in litt.).


Current population status

The population size was estimated to 270 - 345 pairs in Ukraine in 2006 (Vetrov et al. in litt.). However, the surveys were focused on power line nesting structures and cliffs. Limited efforts were put on survey of “tree nesting” pairs (i.e. in forest-steppe zone, gallery forest among agriculture fields and flood plains of northern, central and eastern Ukraine), so the true status of the species here is largely a matter of conjecture (Dixon, 2007). We suggest that the minimum population size might easily exceed 400 pairs if a large scale survey on former breeding haunts is carried out.



Saker Falcon estimates by regions in Ukraine (Vetrov et al. in litt.).>>>



Domashevsky, S., Vetrov, V., Ragyov, D. and Dixon, A. (2008) A case of the Saker (Falco cherrug J.E. Gray) incubating a clutch of the Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus L.). In: Modern Study of Birds of Prey and Owls. Materials of III International Scientific Conference and Owls “Birds of Prey and Owls”. Kryvyi Rih, 24-25 October 2008. - Kryvyi Rih, 2008. – 420p. [In Ukrainian]

Coastal breeding habitat
in Crimea, Ukraine.
© D. Ragyov
Montane breeding habitat in Ukraine.
© D. Ragyov
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