The initial results of the study of the food of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Southeastern Bulgaria are ready. From 30 nesting sites of the species, the food remains were collected, including bones, feathers, and fluff in and under the nests, as well as on the resting places that the birds use. 279 pellets were collected, and the volume of material amounted to 259 bones and bone fragments belonging to 249 individual specimens.
As a result of the study, it was found that insects and amphibians have a minor part in the food of the Lesser Spotted Eagle. Reptiles are slightly more than 15% of the victims caught. The most diverse representatives among the victims were birds, including 16 different taxa. The Lesser Spotted Eagle hunts in the largest percentage of mammals – 2/3 (68.27%) of the food of the species, and the frequent victims are various types of voles. The Western white-breasted hedgehog is also an important food component.
The population of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in our country is mainly concentrated in Eastern Bulgaria: Sakar, the SPA Derventski Vazvishenia (Heights), the foothills of Strandzha, the lower reaches of the Tunzha River, Ludogorie, and Lomovete. This forest-nesting species of bird of prey feeds in open spaces, including different types of grassy areas (pastures, meadows, meadows), located among cultivated areas, and shrub vegetation. The species prey mainly on voles and other small rodents but also switches to alternative prey such as amphibians and small birds when the main food source is absent or in insufficient quantity.
The study was carried out within the LIFE project “LIFE for Eagle’s habitats”.
Photos: Nikolay Terziev