Reintroduction efforts have resulted in the first breeding pair of saker falcons in Bulgaria since the early 2000s. Between 2015 and 2020, 80 saker falcons (Falco cherrug) brought in from Austria, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia and Poland were released. In 2018, the first active nest was spotted in the wild. Saker falcons declined in the country due to several factors, including land use changes, toxic baits, pesticides, poaching of chicks and eggs and power line electrocution. With a global population estimated at between 6,100 and 14,900 breeding pairs, the species is listed as endangered, according to the IUCN Red List. The results of the reintroduction program in Bulgaria are detailed in Biodiversity Data Journal.
The reintroduction program resumed last year with plans to release 100 falcons and establish six breeding pairs. Conservationists hope the effort will facilitate gene flow among fragmented populations throughout Central Europe.
Watch a falcon chick hatch in captivity at the Green Balkans Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center.