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Eagle eye: Hundreds of surveyors take part in wintering 'eagle census'

The "Eagles Map" is updated at the beginning of each year in Hungary
The "Eagles Map" is updated at the beginning of each year in Hungary Copyright Attila Kovacs/MTI - Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund
Copyright Attila Kovacs/MTI - Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund
By Greta Ruffino with EBU
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Experts from Hungary and neighbouring countries took part in creating the 'Map of Eagles' and also gave the Saker Falcon the title of Bird of the Year.

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Hundreds of surveyors have taken part in the 21st Hungarian Eagle Census attempting to count the numbers of wintering eagles as accurately as possible.

Tracking them down requires a combined effort from NGOs and wildlife and conservation organisations across the country.

This year, the Saker Falcon has been chosen as the census's Bird of the Year. More than 60% of the falcons in Europe nest in Hungary - and the only proven stable, slightly increasing population of the species dwells in the Carpathian Basin.

"There were 2.5 by 2.5 square kilometre areas where collecting has taken place," explains Attila Zelenák, a member of MME - the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society - or BirdLife Hungary.

🥳🐦A 2024-es év madara a kerecsensólyom! Az MME 1974-es megalakulása óta kiemelt figyelmet fordít e fajra, ezért is lett...

Posted by MME - Magyar Madártani Egyesület on Wednesday, January 3, 2024

"Wherever you were, you could write down what you saw, then the app recorded the coordinates as a base, and you could write in data about the species, age, sex, etc," he adds.

BirdLife Hungaryhas evolved into the largest environmental NGO in Central and Eastern Europe.

"It is interesting to count eagles in winter, because the old breeding pairs are usually in their territory, guarding the nest or even the nesting area, but the young ones are wandering... very often, in good feeding areas, many of them may congregate and we want to discover these wintering flocks," says Zelenak.

Several partner organisations and experts joined the event, including colleagues from neighbouring countries, because the task comes under the scope of the EU’s Pannon Eagle and Saker LIFE programs.

The goal of the census is to create the “Map of Eagles” wintering in the Carpathian Basin, which is expected to be finalised in February.

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