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The Oldest Known Eastern Imperial Eagle in Hungary Dies


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The highly protected bird of prey was lying in a path on the border of a wheat field. Its right foot bore a ring which immediately revealed that it was ringed in Slovakia.

On the basis of the ring number, experts from the Hungarian Birds and Nature Conservation Association (MME) quickly discovered that the dead bird was one of two chicks in a 2-chick nest ringed 23 years ago on June 26, 1995 in Eastern Slovakia. This eagle was the third oldest imperial eagle in the data bank. A specimen died at the age of 26 in the Mátras. The oldest known wild eagle is currently 28 years old and living in Slovakia.

There was no clue as to the cause of death, and no external evidence. Therefore, the body of the rare, highly protected, globally endangered natural treasure will be subject to further laboratory testing. Until then, it is temporarily at ANPI’s Zemplén Nature Reserve Office.

According to a photo taken in 2011, it was well-known that a pair of nesting ringed eagles were in the vicinity, but the rings’ data was unreadable from the photo. The male eagle is still alive, and was observed the day after circling above its nest carrying a stick in its claws. We hope that it will soon locate a new mate! In the operational area of ANP, 17 inhabited eagle nests were known about in 2017, in which 12 produced chicks. The dead female eagle and her mate successfully raised one chick in 2017. Experts have been aware of these nests for over 50 years.

These predators do not often have a natural enemy, but human civilization can cause serious damage their numbers. In addition to shrinking feeding and breeding sites, the risk of hunting or poisoning in Hungary as well as airplanes pose further threats to the species. Poison is not usually intended for the eagles, but rather for rats or other rodents whose carcasses the eagles then eat.

If you find a dead bird of prey, please report it to the regionally competent authority such as the nearest National Park Directorate or MME (www.mme.hu ). Do not hold it or move it. By reporting any such incident, the data collected can help preserve this endangered species.

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