Following the movements of the Eastern Imperial Eagle

Since 2016, when there was only one breeding pair of Eastern Imperial Eagles left in Serbia, this awe-inspiring bird of prey has constantly been in the focus of the scientific community as well as the public at large. Thanks to the efforts of our colleagues from the Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia and their volunteers, who for the first time in the country organized round-the-clock supervision of a breeding pair, after six years, in 2022, 5 breeding pairs are now present in Serbia.

This year, the action of tagging the eagle chicks was carried out by the Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia with the help of the Department of Biology and Ecology at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, the Hunting Association “Srpski Krstur”, the Hunting Association “Perjanica” from Mokrin, the Scientific Research Society of Biology and Ecology Students “Josif Pančić” and the Hungarian Ornythological Society (MME – BirdLife Hungary). Additionally, ten students interested in ornithology, from Albania (Albanian Ornithological Society-AOS) and Montenegro (Center for the Protection and Study of Birds of Montenegro), had the opportunity to participate in this activity and learn about the procedures and techniques of tagging wild birds.

“We tagged three young Eastern Imperial Eagles. All of them are marked with a ring, which represents the most fundamental method of tracking birds, and two of them – Ivanka and Radenko, were also equiped with satellite transmitters that provide very precise data on the movement of birds and the environmental conditions in which they live,” said ornithologist Tibor Rekecki, licensed ringer and member of the Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia.

Individuals marked with satellite transmitters are not from the same nest. The eagle, Radenko, survived the fall of his nest from the tree when he was very young, while the other chick in the nest died. He was saved by the quick action of the BPSSS’ associate, gamekeeper and the namesake of this eagle chick – Radenko Cvejanov from Srpski Krstur, who has been vigilantly watching and caring for eagles for years. This accident is clearly reflected in the life habits of the young eagle, as shown by the collected data. Despite the poor prognosis for survival, Radenko flew out of his parent’s nest, but he does not stray too far from his home territory. He mostly moves within the territory of northern Banat, feeding on salt marshes and ponds. During that time, Ivanka, as a completely healthy individual, is much braver in exploring unknown terrain: following the bed of the Tisa river, she went to the north of Hungary for some time staying and feeding in the territory of Hortobágy National Park, the largest protected area in this country, which once again shows the importance of protected areas for nature conservation.

“It is very interesting to simultaneously monitor the data of Radenko and Ivanka, who have completely different lifestyles, as shown by the data we obtained thanks to the telemetry transmitters. Ivanka has so far flown over 3,800 km, reaching a maximum speed of 100 km/h, while Radenko moved much slower with a maximum speed of 74 km/h and only traveled about 850 km. Certainly, we hope that both individuals will safely continue their flight and overcome various dangers such as poisoning, collision with power lines and poaching,” Rekecki added.

The taging of the Eastern Imperial Eagles in 2022 was made possible by the implementation of the “Birds Without Borders” project supported by the Western Balkans Fund (WBF) and the European Union through a program aimed at joint civil society action in the Western Balkans, as well as through the project “PannonEagle LIFE” which is implemented with the financial support of the LIFE program of the European Union.

Gamekeeper Radenko Cvejanov with the Eastern Imperial Eagle chick. Photo Credits Milan Ružić