The first comprehensive estimate of the winter population of the White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla along the Danube/ Prva celostna ocena zimske populacije belorepca Haliaeetus albicilla vzdolž Donave

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Abstract

In January 2014, the first ever comprehensive winter census of the Whitetailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla along the Danube River was conducted, using mostly point and transect counts. Altogether, 550-700 eagles were counted. The upper range of the estimate may in fact be more realistic because 615 km of the Danube were not surveyed. Birds were observed in every country along the Danube. Hotspots of occurrences were (1) the Central Danube floodplains - the area encompassing the lower Hungarian section (Danube- Drava National Park), Kopački rit Nature Park (Croatia), and the Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve (Serbia); and (2) the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. According to the Action Plan for the conservation of the White-tailed Eagle along the Danube, future winter counts should be made regularly, and lower variation in the resulting eagle numbers achieved by a higher degree of synchronization between individual countries. This study reinforces the importance of protected areas along the Danube as a backbone for the conservation of White-tailed Eagles and biodiversity.

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