F.VESPERTINUS-HU/RO - Conservation of Falco vespertinus in the Pannonian Region

LIFE05 NAT/H/000122

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  

Contact details:

Project Manager: Adam EZER
Tel: +36 66 313 855
Fax: +36 66 311 658
Email: adam.ezer@kmnp.hu

Project description:


The red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus), a threatened species in Annex I of the Birds Directive, is also identified as a priority species in Hungary and Romania. Together these two countries account for 90% of the total red-footed falcon European population, notwithstanding a separate sub-population in the former Soviet Union. The conservation of the population of the Pannonian biogeographical region (Hungary and Western-Romania) is therefore crucial for the survival of the species in the EU. The population of the species in the region has decreased from almost 3 200 breeding pairs in 1990 to roughly 925 known breeding pairs in 2003. The population can only be maintained if accurate information is available about the reasons for its decline.


The project’s overall goal was to restore to a favourable conservation status the red-footed falcon in the Pannonian biogeographical region (Hungary and Western-Romania). In addition, the project aimed to strengthen the conservation status of the rook (Corvus frugilegus) in the region.

In order to achieve its overall goals, general objectives were to:

    • increase the number of suitable and potential nesting sites of F. vespertinus by installing nest boxes;
    • encourage habitat management by understanding F. vespertinus habitat preferences and prey selection;
    • lower mortality rates by practical measures such as insulation of dangerous electric pylons around nesting, roosting and feeding sites, eliminating predators and reducing road-side kills by imposing speed limits; and
    • monitor F. vespertinus population trends.

    To meet these objectives, 32 actions were planned focusing on an area encompassing 12 special protection areas (SPAs) in Hungary and 11 proposed SPAs in Western-Romania. Because many of these sites are situated in highly populated areas, public acceptance was particularly important. Therefore another key objective was to involve and inform concerned interest-groups and the public.


    The project was able to achieve all its goals and objectives: The conservation status of the F. vespertinus was substantially improved. The breeding population for the Carpathian-basin increased from 800-920 pairs in 2006, to 1 400-1 500 breeding pairs in 2009. A total of 3 200 nest-boxes were installed in Hungary and in Romania and their occupancy rate was approximately 17% between 2007 and 2009. 67 % (597 pairs) of the Hungarian population bred in the installed nest boxes in 2009. About 4 500-5 000 birds were fledged as a result of the project (calculated by the number of pairs bred in nest-boxes and mean number of fledged juveniles per year). The maximum number of birds counted during the autumn roost-site surveys in 2007 was approximately 3 600; while 5 800 and 9 100 individuals were observed in 2008 and 2009, respectively. A total of 3 500 birds were marked with rings.

    A study area for detailed habitat mapping based on the analysis of satellite images and field surveys was established. Between 2006 and 2008 a total of 41 birds were trapped and fitted with radio-transmitters to assess their precise habitat-use during the breeding season and a survey of potential prey (mammals and insects) in each habitat category was carried out.

    In both countries an agro-environmental programme proposal for F. vespertinus-friendly management was prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    The data obtained from satellite transmitters proved to be highly informative on large scale movements of the tracked individuals and allow a better understanding about the timing of autumn migration, migratory routes, migration dynamics and most important of all the precise wintering grounds of the F. vespertinus population in the Pannonian biogeographical region.

    Concerning the conservation of C. frugilegus, a major project achievement is that since 2006 the hunting of the species (between 15 March and 15 August) has been made illegal in Romania. Furthermore, the project’s ‘Corvus conflict management plan’ has been approved by the Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Water and accepted by the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Water Management. According to project monitoring, the breeding population of C. frugilegus in the project area seems stable (17-19 000 pairs), although the fragmentation of Hungarian rookeries has been experienced over the past 4 years.

    In total, over 500 km of power lines were insulated in Hungary and 16 km in Romania. New patches of woodland to serve as habitat for rookeries in the future were established in 36 sites (13.25 ha) in the project area. In Romania, a management plan of road-side trees was developed and submitted to the local and regional road authorities.

    An international conference on the conservation of F. vespertinus was organised in Szarvas in September 2009. As well as the Hungarian participants, this was attended by 34 experts from nine countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Romania, Serbia, UK).

    Finally, among the project’s many dissemination activities, a film on the life of C. frugilegus and F. vespertinus and on the recent conservation efforts was made and shown at the 2009 Hungarian Film Week. It won the ‘best director’ award in the scientific educational documentary category.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds


protected area‚  public awareness campaign‚  nature conservation

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)

Target species

 Falco vespertinus     

Natura 2000 sites

SPA HUKM10001 Kígyósi-puszta
SPA HUKM10004 Hódmezővásárhely környéki és csanádi-háti puszták



Coordinator Körös-Maros National Park Directorate
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description The Körös-Maros National Park Directorate (KMNPD) is the public authority responsible for the management of the 51 000-ha Körös-Maros National Park, founded in 1997 by the Ministry of the Environment and Regional development. As well as the management of the national park, the beneficiary is responsible for the nature conservation/ management and regional development of over 900 000 ha of high value forests and landscapes. It employs 66 staff working in the area of nature conservation.
Partners Bükk National Park Directorate, Hungary Duna-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary Hortobágy National Park Directorate, Hungary Kiskunság National Park Directorate, Hungary MME/BirdLife, Hungary Environment Protection Agency of Bihor County, Romania “Milvus Group” Association, Romania


Project reference LIFE05 NAT/H/000122
Duration 01-JAN-2006 to 31-DEC -2009
Total budget 1,546,580.00 €
EU contribution 772,190.00 €
Project location Associated Hungary (H)(Hungary Magyarország) Associated Romania(Romania)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Layman report "A kék vércse védelme a pannon régióben 2006-2009"
Video link "It takes two to tango !" (52')
Video link "Ketten egy fészekben" (52')
Video link "Chiriasii" (52')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version