On 20.03.2023, as part of the activities under the LIFE project “LIFE for Eagle’s habitats” (LIFE18 NAT/BG/001051), the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and the Southeastern State Enterprise” DP – Sliven – “Kosti” State Forestry and “Zvezdets” State Forestry built foraging trenches for the improvement on the food base of the Lesser Spotted Eagle. The construction of the foraging trenches is part of an experiment to optimize the food resources for birds of prey, in particular the Lesser Spotted Eagle, in areas with reduced and damaged foraging habitats.
Foraging trenches are trenches (various depths have been experimented) in which layers of straw and seeds (wheat, corn, sunflower, etc.) are placed. The goal is to increase the density of both small rodents (voles and mice) and other species, such as reptiles, that feed on them, which is a prerequisite for a direct increase in food resources for a number of raptor species. In the food of the Lesser Spotted Eagle, voles make up about 49.19% of the used food resources, reptiles – 11.88%, and other rodent species – 2.16%.
Experiment activities will continue with observation and evaluation of the effect of the construction of the foraging trenches, including trail cameras and field monitoring, as well as evaluation of the change in the density of rodents in the range of the trenches and the territories around them. An important component of the monitoring and assessment will be the use of the territory by the nearby pair of Lesser Spotted Eagles and other species of birds of prey. If the method proves successful, it could be used to improve food resources for pairs of raptors whose foraging habitats have been damaged, which in turn would help improve their breeding success.
Photos: © Dimitar Gradinarov