The reedbeds provide essential habitat for many Acrocephalus and Locustella species during both breeding and migration periods. The nesting and the migration of these species have been the subject of detailed research over the past half century in the Carpathian Basin. However, these studies have focused primarily on natural habitats and large reedbeds and thus, little is known about the role of smaller habitat fragments in the migration and nesting of these species. During my work, I studied the spring and autumn migration of five passerines in a landscape dominated by agricultural land in Southeast Hungary. Field observations were carried out to survey the populations of different species between 2010–2019. To study their migration, I used the method of bird ringing between 2016–2019 in an oleaster forest and a drainage canal. I was able to determine the migration periods of the species and in autumn, to calculate the time spent in the research area based on the recaptures. In conclusion, reedbeds in secondary habitats play a similar role in the migration of the most common Acrocephalus and Locustella species as in the natural habitats in different regions of the Carpathian Basin. There are differences among species in the timing of migration, the length of time spent here, and the accumulated fat stores. As these species nest in small numbers in the area, primarily individuals from more distant populations occur here during the migration.
The Fieldfare is a bird species widely distributed in the Palearctic region. In Hungary, the species is considered as a rare breeder and common, sometimes abundant migrant in autumn and spring, and also as winter visitor. It is prone to invasion, since northern breeding populations leave the breeding sites in large numbers only when the available food is inadequate or inaccessible to the birds. Most populations follow a southern-southwestern migration pattern, and in the course of their movement they also migrating through the Carpathian Basin. In this study, we examined the migration and wintering of the species in an area of southeast Hungary between 2004 and 2019. Data were collected between the beginning of October and the middle of April and during that period we saw Fieldfares a total of 416 times. In addition to the description of migration, the effect of weather on bird numbers was also investigated. According to our results, the species appears in the area in October and disappears in late March and the first half of April. The individuals that migrate in October are likely belonging to the Central European breeding population, while from November the Scandinavian birds can be seen. The maximum number of birds observed during the different years showed significant differences, as did the patterns of movements within the seasons. The relationship between the local weather and the number of birds has been demonstrated over several seasons, which is typical of species with an escape migration.
Between 1995 and 2017 we carried out surveys on the Little Owl (Athene noctua) in Battonya town and Kevermes village in southern Békés county. In 2007 and 2017 we have surveyed nesting sites in the village and the outer areas of Kevermes. The population of the species was estimated at the beginning of the breeding season and in early summer with field observations. Between 1995 and 2017 we collected road-kill data within the entire administrative area of Battonya. We registered each fiund road-killed Little Owl. We found 64 road-kills in Battonya. The number of casualties of the species has increased unambiguously over the studied 23 years. Most of the road-killed Little Owls (53 individuals, 82.81% of the total) were found in summer (June–August). 51 road-killed individuals (79.69%) were noted in the outer areas of Battonya, and 13 specimens (20.31%) in the town. Our results highlight that vehicle traffic is an important mortality factor for the population. The Little Owl has a large population in this landscape, and the population size has increased over the last decade. In the background of this increase is most likely the rise in the number of abandoned houses because of the unfavourable economic and social situation in the region. The local pairs nested only on attics and roof structures in Kevermes, often in residential buildings. The buildings of modern agriculture do not meet the needs of the species. A large part of the population breeds in the village, because with the disappearance of the farms the breeding pairs of the outer areas of Kevermes have disappeared. However, in Battonya the species regularly breeds in the outer areas of the town. Finally, we also collected some ethnoecological data on how local people relate to the species.
Forests have an important role during migration. They act as ecological corridors and provide resting and feeding places for birds. In our study, we sought to determine whether migratory birds prefer secondary forest or canal vegetation during migration. The study was carried out in Southeast Hungary, in an oleaster forest and in a canal. We used 12 mist nets and the ringing method. The study period lasted from August to October 2016–2018, covering approximately the entire migration period. According to our results, the canal has a significant effect on the species assemblage, as it functions as a migration corridor during migration, most likely not only for diurnal migrants, but for nocturnal migrants as well. Our results showed that the presence of both woody and berry plants had some influence on the species composition. Interestingly, the presence of berries had a positive effect on the presence of insectivorous birds.
We examined the autumn migration phenology of nine Siberian breeding songbirds: Thick-billed Warbler (Iduna aedon), Black-browed Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus bistrigiceps), Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella certhiola), Lanceolated Warbler (L. lanceolata), Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), Arctic Warbler (Ph. borealis), Dusky Warbler (Ph. fuscatus), Radde’s Warbler (Ph. schwarzi), Two-barred Warbler (Ph. plumbeitarsus) and compared the migration dynamic characteristics with their European occurrence time. The study was carried out within the Amur Bird Project in the Russian Far East along the river Amur at Muraviovka Park between 2011 and 2014. The birds were caught with mistnets and ringed with individually numbered rings. For the characterization of the migration, we used timing, the intervals and the peaks of the migration, the percentage of the recaptures and the average time between the first and the last captures. The timing of migration in the studied species differed in the timing, the intervals (30-67 days) and the migration peaks (14 August - 17 September).
Considering the size and location of the distribution area, the timing and annual patterns of European occurrences, it is likely that most individuals of Thick-billed Warbler, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Radde’s Warbler and Two-barred Warbler get to Europe due to the impact of Siberian cyclones. In case of Yellow- browed Warblers, other factors (reverse migration, weather conditions, dispersal movements) may also play a role. Because of their Scandinavian breeding populations, dispersion movement is the most likely reason for vagrants of Arctic Warbler and Lanceolated Warbler. The distribution of the Black-browed Reed Warbler is limited to the eastern edge of the continent, and therefore this species has no European record to date.
The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) was chosen as the bird of the year in Hungary by BirdLife Hungary in 2020 to pay more attention to this species. In the present study, we analysed the data collected on the food, changes in the population and the use of the roosting sites of the owls wintering Southeast-Hungary. A total of 4,683 pellets were collected in four winter seasons between 2016 and 2020, of which 5,265 prey animals were identified. We counted the individuals roosting in the winter roosting sites, and from their maximum number we estimated the local population change of the species as well as the success of the breeding. For this, we also used roadkill data from the nearby town, Battonya.
The diet of Long-eared Owls in the study area was similar to that observed in other parts of the Carpathian Basin. The smaller differences were mainly due to the different geographical distribution of different prey species. We also identified some species previously having no or very few data, thus we confirmed their stable presence in the area. Different weather factors within the season did not effect owls’ diet. The most varied diet was found in the warmest, least snowy winter. Comparing the feeding data with the data from the 1960s and 1970s, it can be seen that the proportion of preys changed significantly. The proportion of House/Steppe Mice decreased by an order of magnitude, while that of rats increased by the same amount over time. The most likely reasons for this may be changes in agricultural cultivation or local demographic conditions (depopulation). In the 2018/19 season, the proportion of Common Vole in the pellets was much higher than in any other years, suggesting this year’s gradation of the species. The pellets collected in different roosting sites close to each other typically had the same proportions of prey animals.
The maximum number of birds observed at the roosting sites did not correlate with the weather of the given season, but was probably related to the effectiveness of the previous breeding season.
The population of the species decreased compared to the early 2000’s based on the number of roosting individuals. This may be due to a decline in crow populations. It should be noted, however, that according to both the roadkills in Battonya and the maximum number of the roosting individuals in Kevermes, this drastic decline came to a halt in 2010s.