Lesser Spotted Eagle : Cows to protect rare birds

Twenty five cows are to be handed over to farmers in eastern Poland to graze in the open, thereby creating an ideal habitat for the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Polskie Radio reported on January 5.

Lesser Spotted Eagle

Lesser Spotted Eagle

This is part of a project aimed at protecting this large Eastern European bird of prey, launched in Poland with funding from the EU and the National Nature Protection Fund.

“The farmers are expected to breed the cattle and hand over the young to other farmers in the region. The programme focuses on improving the habitat of this eagle in the Bialowieza and Knyszynska Forests,” the radio said.

The project, which is costing some 4.6 million euro, also provides for erecting 300 wooden posts enabling the eagles to look out for prey in the open fields, mowing overgrown deserted fields and creating small water reservoirs.

About 1,900 pairs of the Lesser Spotted Eagle nest in Poland. I’ve been lucky enough to see two and other magnificent wildlife on visits during springtime in recent years.

This story is quite reminiscent of the project underway for the last several years down in the Burren : BurrenLIfe – Farming for Conservation.

While this certainly sounds like a worthwhile project to save such an iconic species, I’d have two basic questions :

1. How could 25 cows, 300 wooden posts and “project management” possibly cost € 4.6 m ?

2. Won’t there be other birds and animal species that will lose out, as a result of the mowing of overgrown, deserted fields which might be perfect habitat for them ?

[Original story from The Financial – www.finchannel.com]

Lesser Spotted Eagle

At around 60 cm in length and with a wingspan of ca. 140 – 160 cm, this is a relatively small eagle. Indeed, the beak is also quite small for an eagle and the bird is not that dissimilar to a Buzzard. Eating mainly small mammals, frogs and insects, they like to perch at low level above fields, hence the erection of the wooden posts as part of this project. Absent in western Europe.

If you love birdwatching and wildlife spotting in general, consider joining our next Poland Wildlife & Birdwatching Tour. Please note that this is not a walking tour.