Protecting young, endangered Montagu harriers

Ornithologists are searching for the nests of Montagu harriers, a rare bird of prey living in Slovakia’s lowlands, to try to protect them from famers’ harvesting activities. The birds build their nests directly on the soil within fields of crops. “Each year, a fight for time begins as the harrier offspring start flying about the same time as the beginning of the harvest” said Michal Noga of the BirdLife Slovakia NGO to the TASR newswire. He explained that it is not always easy to find a harrier’s nest as they are usually hidden in high crops over acres of land, adding that the really hard work begins only after the nest has been found.

Ornithologists help to save and preserve nestsOrnithologists help to save and preserve nests (Source: TASR)

Ornithologists are searching for the nests of Montagu harriers, a rare bird of prey living in Slovakia’s lowlands, to try to protect them from famers’ harvesting activities. The birds build their nests directly on the soil within fields of crops. “Each year, a fight for time begins as the harrier offspring start flying about the same time as the beginning of the harvest” said Michal Noga of the BirdLife Slovakia NGO to the TASR newswire. He explained that it is not always easy to find a harrier’s nest as they are usually hidden in high crops over acres of land, adding that the really hard work begins only after the nest has been found.

“We contact the owner of the land and try to figure out a solution acceptable for all. Sometimes, the young birds need just a few more days to learn to fly and leave the nest. In other cases, we ask the owner to leave a patch of uncut crop fenced off by us in order to protect the birds from foxes and boars,” Noga explained.

Montagu harriers belong among the most protected animal species in Slovakia since each year just 5 to 15 couples lay eggs. Protection of these harriers depends on cooperation between the protectionists and owners of farm land, the SITA newswire wrote. The project is supported by the Ekopolis Foundation using funds from the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Community, the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and the public budget.

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