A national White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) census was organised in Hungary in 2019. The 14th country-wide nest count was coordinated by MME/BirdLife Hungary, also involving local branches and volunteers of the society and national park directorates.
Altogether 5,018 nests and 2,358 White Stork nest holders without nest material were reported. 89.2% of occupied nests were built on electric poles. Although 80 years ago every third nests were found on trees, in 2019, only 6 were reported at that location. Successful pairs raised 2.62 nestlings on average, breeding success for all breeding pairs was 2.19, which is lower than typical, probably due to chilly and rainy weather during the breeding season. Based on 3,540 reported breeding pairs and former census data, the White Stork population of Hungary is estimated to be 3,860–4,020 pairs in 2019. The size of the population was ca. 15–16 thousand pairs in 1941, which halved by 1958 and decreased to 5 thousand pairs by the late 1960s. For four decades, the population fluctuated between 4,800 and 5,500 pairs but in the last twenty years, the number of breeding pairs slightly decreased in the country. The population decline is stronger in hilly areas of W Hungary, i.e. in Somogy, Vas and Zala counties is about 60%.
Based on the Hungarian common bird monitoring scheme (MMM), which is the longest running country-wide monitoring using formal sampling design with representative data for the main habitats in Central-Eastern Europe, we investigated the population trends of common breeding and wintering species. Habitat preference and occupancy of the common breeders, migration strategies and relationships among these characteristics could act behind the population trends. We pointed out that long distance migrant bird species had strong decreasing trends in Hungary and very probably in the entire Pannonian biogeographical region, whereas the partial and short migrant species has increasing trends. Farmland birds had declining trend, which trend became more obvious since the joining of Hungary to the EU. The negative changes in the farmland habitat could influence bird species nesting/foraging mainly in this habitat independently from their migration strategies. Our investigations let us to develop indicators on the basis of migration strategy and habitat usage of common birds to provide regular information about condition of groups of species and their habitats in Hungary and the Pannonian region. The MMM database provide unique opportunity for further investigations of several species, habitats and area specific in a part of Europe where this kind of information is rare yet.
Red-footed Falcons are gregarious trans-equatorial migrants, forming up to several thousand strong roost sites after the breeding season and before commencing migration. This pre-migration period is presumed to play a major role in defining the survival of long-range migrants. Here we investigate the autumn movements of 8 individuals caught and satellite-tagged within the Carpathian Basin. We found that birds may use multiple roost sites that can be separated by large distances. A single individual’s home range was 88 km2 (80% kernel home range) and was near concentrical to the roost site. Two individuals travelled to southern Ukraine soon after tag-deployment. Our results demonstrate that even a small number of satellite tagged birds show behavioural plasticity in terms of roost site selection indicating that post-breeding foraging habitat choice decisions may have substantial variability. The night localization points of birds marked out 2 and 5 yet unknown potential roost sites in Hungary and in the Ukraine, respectively. Using the data of an international weekly survey (2006-2011) carried out in the Carpathian Basin, we cross-referenced the departure dates of tagged individuals with the 6 year means of counted individuals. The tagged birds initiated migration with the first 25% percent of the surveyed population.
The Hoopoe is a widespread species in Hungary with the strongest populations on the Great plains. The fact that in 2015 it became ‛The Bird of the Year’ in Hungary offers the possibility to summarise the information about the distribution, population size, dispersion, migration as well as the nature conservation status of the Hoopoe population breeding in Hungary. In the period of 1999–2014 the number of breeding pairs and trend of population level was estimated based on the Common Bird Census database. The population size was estimated as 13,500–17,500 pairs with a stable trend (slope=−1.3%, SE=2.5%) over 1999–2014. There is very limited information on migration from bird ringing, only 8 recoveries between 1928–1963 indicate, that the Hungarian population is migrating on a south-southeast direction in autumn, wintering in the eastern parts of the Sahel, possibly in Chad and Sudan and migrates back in spring following a loop migration pattern further to the east. The main conservation issues are agricultural intensification impacting feeding possibilities, lack of nesting cavities and hunting during migration.
The Corncrake is a strictly protected species in Hungary and a qualifying species of many Natura 2000 sites. Despite its Least concern global conservation status, it receives much attention and was elected as “Bird of the Year” by MME BirdLife Hungary in 2016. In this paper, we estimate its population trends and analyse the suitability of the protected area system and agri-environment schemes for the species. We compiled information on major threatening factors and conservation measures applied for the species. We reviewed international publications on the ecology and conservation management of the species to extract information for practical conservation. We estimated that 500–2000 pairs of Corncrakes breed in Hungary. Although their breeding sites are well covered by protected areas, Natura 2000 sites (42%) and High Nature Value Areas (67%), their population has declined by 55% over the last 20 years. We found that most of the major threatening factors are addressed by conservation management, and appropriate measures are applied in most cases. Recent research findings and recommendations by the BirdLife International Corncrake Conservation Team suggest that mowing of grasslands around nesting places should be delayed until 1–15 August either in the entire field or at least on 2 hectares around nests. Prescriptions of agri-environment schemes should also be adjusted to the above requirements and more farmers should be encouraged to enrol in Corncrake conservation programmes. We strongly suggest that more emphasis should be devoted to combat important threats for the most important breeding sites such as aridification and flooding.
The objective of this study was to examine associations between milking temperament, parity and milk production traits in primiparous and multiparous dairy cows. Twenty-one primiparous and nineteen multiparous Holstein Friesian cows were involved in the investigation on a Hungarian dairy farm. Cows’ stepping behaviour, milk yield and average milking speed were recorded once a month over an entire lactation, during morning milking. Milking temperament was scored by direct human observation on a 5-point-scale (1=very nervous, 5=very quiet) during udder preparation and milking. Multiparous cows showed a little more excitable behaviour at milking than during udder preparation (Mann-Whitney U=14165.00, P=0.032), and they were calmer at premilking preparation than primiparous cows (Mann-Whitney U=14046.00, P=0.001). Milking temperament of multiparous cows during udder preparation was associated with milking speed: nervous cows let down their milk slower (F=9.102, df= 1, P=0.003). Further experiments are needed to repeat the milking temperament test along with sensors measuring heart rate variability of cows in order to better understand the milking behaviour of cows.
The European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster Linnaeus, 1758) is known as ‛beekeeper bird’ and an effective ecosystem engineer species. The fact that in 2013 it became ‛The Bird of the Year’ in Hungary offers the possibility to summarise the information about the distribution, population size, breeding and feeding ecology, dispersion, migration, intra- and interspecific relationships as well as the nature conservation status of the bee-eater population breeding in Hungary. Though this review focuses on the Hungarian population trends, but also summarises the major research results from other countries. In the period of 1992-2013, the number of breeding pairs were surveyed in 5897 2.5×2.5 km UTM squares in the frame of the Monitoring of Rare and Colonial Breeding Birds programme. In the surveyed area during the period of 1992-2013, the most accurate estimate suggests a 10600-19600 breeding pair population. The larger nesting colonies were observed in the following regions: Zala Hills, Outer Somogy, Gerecse, Velencei Hills, Mezőföld, Gödöllő Hills, Tápió, Bükkalja, Taktaköz, Körös region. The annual population indices showed marked fluctuation with stable long term population trend in Hungary. The national monitoring and protection project of the European Bee-eater revealed the most important factors endangering the nesting populations, these are weed invasion and the collapse of vertical banks, mining carried out in the nesting period and direct human-caused disturbance (e.g. shooting, tourism).
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