Photo: © Nikolai Terziev

The final results of the study of the food of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Bulgaria are ready. From 45 nesting sites of the species, distributed in the eastern part of the country, 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. 615 pellets were collected, and the volume of material amounted to 458 bones and bone fragments belonging to 523 individual specimens.

As a result of the research, it was found that the most frequent victims of the Lesser Spotted Eagle are the various species of voles (42.64% of the victims caught). An important food component is the Southern white-breasted hedgehog, representing 13% of the victims. The reptiles are also a significant food source, with snakes providing 8.99% of the eagle’s catch and lizards 3.82%. Of the birds, different species of songbirds are important as a food source with 6.88% participation, and crows – with 3.82%. The rodent group (excluding voles) is also an important additional food source (6.12%). Insects have a minor part in the diet of the Lesser Spotted Eagle, represented by 3.44%, and amphibians represented by less than 1%.

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, Eastern Stara Planina,  Ludogorie, Lomovete and with smaller numbers in the Eastern Rhodopes and Strandzha. 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”.