Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) populations recovered globally after a dramatic decline experienced between the 1950s and 1980s. The conservation challenge forced the raptor biologist community to co-operate internationally. As a part of the co-operation, four conferences were organised to identify the problem, coordinate conservation efforts including research and to monitor the recovery process of the species’ populations worldwide. The line of conferences started in Madison (WI, USA) in 1965 and was followed by two conferences in Sacramento (CA, USA) and Piotrowo/Poznań (Poland) in 1985 and in 2007, respectively. The latest conference was organised in 2017, in Budapest, where Peregrine experts discussed the latest research and monitoring results. The event provides a good occasion to review the development of the Peregrine population in Hungary. The species became extinct in Hungary as a breeding species in the mid-1960s due to the intensive use of pesticides (DDT) and it returned only in 1997, when the first successful breeding was recorded. In 2018, 72 active eyries were recorded. The Hungarian population is the edge of the Carpathian Peregrine population and the birds represent mostly the nominate subspecies (F. p. peregrinus), but individuals showing typical phenotype of the Mediterranean subspecies (F. p. brookei) were also observed. The northern race of F. p. calidus also occurs on migration and in winter. The Hungarian population is sedentary. Natal dispersal of females is biased to males, but in case of both sexes most ring recoveries of adult birds occurred within the Pannonian basin. The increasing Peregrine population expanding to the lowland may cause conservation conflict on medium term by competing with the endangered Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) for the nest sites. The conservation status of the Peregrine Falcon in Hungary is good in general, but threats may emerge on local scale in some regions. No specific conservation measures are taken, research and monitoring focus on population changes and threats posed on and caused by Peregrines.
Due to conservation measures, the breeding population of the Raven significantly strengthened over the last decades in Hungary, also nesting on the lowlands. Nowadays, observing large flocks is not rare. Compared to other European countries, the urbanization of the species began relatively late in Hungary, in the ‘90s, first breeding in the urban areas of Baranya County. There were another five similar known cases after the millennium across the country. Because of the advanced adaptive capacity of species, this number is likely to grow in the future. In Hungary, the brood is typically complete in the second half of February and the young birds fledge in the first days of May. There are two known cases after the millennium when the Ravens bred in a significantly different time than usual. In these cases, the young birds fledged on 20 January and the second half of February. In both cases, the nests were found on overhead transmission line poles in lowland agricultural areas. It is uncertain what led to the unusual breeding time, but it is most likely that the breeding pair was accustomed, having successfully raised several brood before, and they could rely on the abundant food base near the nests during the breeding period.
An unexpected expansion of the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) population was observed in East Hungary from mountainous habitat into lowlands from 1989 onwards. Here the population markedly increased from 2 to 59 breeding pairs by 2006, while the mountainous population remained more or less stable with 12-17 breeding pairs. At the beginning of the expansion process the nearest neighbour distances between breeding pairs was lower in the mountains than in the lowlands, but presently they are similar, indicating a saturation process in the lowland areas, but no density dependence was revealed on breeding success. During the study period a higher ratio of non-adult pairs was observed in the lowland territories (49%) than in the mountains (22%). We found that both age and habitat influenced breeding success. We also found that age-effect was significant on success rate (i.e. the ratio of pairs that produce at least one chick), while habitat-effect was more evident on fledging success (i.e. the number of fledglings per productive pair). The overall productivity (i.e. number of fledglings per breeding pair) was affected primarily by the age of the pairs, but the interaction term of age x habitat also was significant. We suppose that better feeding possibilities (closer foraging areas and larger prey density) could explain the higher fledging success in the lowlands. We also predicted that pairs inhabiting agricultural areas in the lowlands will have a reduced success rate due to higher human disturbance, together with an age effect of the breeding pairs. Therefore adult pairs probably can habituate to disturbance even if it happens in the close vicinity of their nesting sites.
Bird conservation on electricity transmission lines has a 40-year history in Hungary. It started with the saker conservation program. The initial small-scale activities were considerably enlarged through the LIFE projects. In the first project, 301 nest boxes for sakers of a new type made of aluminium were installed on pylons of high-voltage transmission lines. In 201 3 nearly 70% of saker pairs nested in these new boxes. An estimated 1 00 000 different birds used to be killed annually on the transmission line pylons in Hungary. During the two LIFE projects about 1 4 300 pylons were made bird-safe using improved technology and materials. Nearly 800 new bird-safe crossarms of pylons are being installed in the second project, which is expected to completely eradicate the danger