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Eastern Imperial Eagles Are Returning To Serbia

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The Eastern Imperial Eagle has the lifespan of a human, a wingspan of up to two metres, and is found on many flags and coats of arms; they live on top of high trees and are an endangered species.

The last pair of eastern imperial eagles in northern Serbia has recently had baby eagles and, thanks to the support from Serbian and EU ornithologists—they will continue to live there.

The nest that houses the eastern imperial eagles’ couple—that was until recently the last two specimens of this species in Serbia—is located in the tri-state area of Serbia, Hungary, and Romania. Eastern Imperial Eagle, the bird living In the highest oak canopies in the tri-border area of these three countries, used to be the symbol of a long lost species. The human impact on nature and industrialization has led to the extermination of rodents—the primary source of food for eagles—so, besides losing their homes, eagles were also at risk of dying from hunger.

After years of uncertainty, today we can say that Eastern Imperial Eagle is again roaming the skies of Serbia

With support from the European Union, ornithologists have for three years monitored and took care of these birds, removing pesticides used in agricultural production and rebuilding the habitat for this dying species. During the nesting period—from March to July—volunteers of the Association for protection and study of birds of Serbia kept an eye on the nest and watched over these birds. And their efforts have indeed paid off—five new eaglets are now growing up in Banat, in the northernmost part of Serbia.

On the International Day for Biological Diversity, the Association’s Executive Director Milan Ružić said: “I am very happy and proud that, after years of uncertainty, today we can say that Eastern Imperial Eagle is again roaming the skies of Serbia. This is a tremendous achievement for our organisation and the protection of birds and the environment in Serbia. We have shown that when experts, citizens, public authorities, the economy, and the media join forces, they have the power and will to make a substantial change. With European Commission’s support offered through „PannonEagle LIFE“ project, implemented together with the Provincial Institute for Nature Conservation, in cooperation with organisations from Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria, we have made significant progress, and we have to especially thank our Hungarian colleagues who have been working to preserve Eastern Imperial Eagles for over 40 years.”

The three nesting couples of Eastern Imperial Eagles in Serbia are considered a tremendous success, but ornithologists say that the cause for concern is all but gone. Eagles are still at risk of losing both their habitat and the source of food. In many parts of Serbia, new couples have trouble finding old trees where they could nest. Grasslands that are home to ground squirrels—Eastern Imperial Eagles’ favourite prey—are quickly disappearing due to agricultural activity. Experts are also concerned about the frequent poisoning of wild birds species in the immediate vicinity of eagles’ habitats.

This year, the Association intends to mark an Eastern Imperial Eagle with a satellite transmitter for the first time in order to gain better insight into the behaviour of young birds after they leave the parents’ nest. This way, they will obtain information on the birds’ movement and hunting ground. It will also allow experts to check on birds if they decide to stay in one place for a while.

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