11 • 07 • 2012

Rescue of lesser spotted eagle chick

In the afternoon of July 4, JSC “Latvia’s State Forests” (LVM) received a report from the State Forest Service’s Eastern Latgale Forest District that district experts had found a bird of prey chick that had fallen out of its nest during a logging operation in a private forest in the vicinity of Ludza. The report strongly suggested that it was a chick of the lesser spotted eagle – a strictly protected species. LVM bird expert Uģis Bergmanis was asked to help rescue the chick.

Uģis Bergmanis: “Responding to the call for help, I was at the scene right after dawn; there I examined the bird, which seemed healthy and uninjured. Talking to harvesters, I found out that they had come upon a large, previously undiscovered nest near the top of a fir tree. In the evening, when the logging operation was over, the workers heard the cries of the chick, and found the eaglet, which must have hatched at the beginning of June and was partly fluffed, on the ground not far from the nest. It seemed that the eaglet had been thrown out of the nest by the branches of a fir tree that had been felled near the nest. The workers took the eaglet to Ludza Department of Eastern Latgale Forest District.”


The tree with the nest was completely separated from other trees, and adult eagles were nowhere to be seen, which is why a decision was taken to take the bird to another lesser spotted eagle nest. The new nest was found in Madona Region. En route to the nest, we found two dead moles – one of the most popular meals of a lesser spotted eagle. The new eaglet was fed, and began adapting to the new nest. The first nest we had visited, near Vecsaikava, had a chick that was much larger than the new eaglet. After the eaglet was put into the nest, the two began to fight right away, and it was clear that only the strongest would survive. So we went down and went to another lesser spotted eagle nest near Prauliena. Droppings under the tree and the presence of an adult eagle made it clear that the nest was inhabited. This time, the chick in the nest was smaller than the new eaglet, so we decided to leave both in one nest, hoping that the birds would live peacefully and that there would be enough voles, moles and frogs in the vicinity of the nest so the adult eagles could feed both chicks.


It needs to be explained that lesser spotted eagles usually lay two eggs, but only one, the stronger eaglet survives. The younger eaglet, exhausted, undernourished and pecked, dies within a few days after hatching as it is constantly attacked by the elder chick. In biology, this phenomenon, the elder brother killing the younger, is called cainism, a term borrowed from Bible stories. However, as the young eaglets grow up, their aggression declines or vanishes completely. That is why we may hope that placing two eaglets that will soon fledge into one nest will be successful, and we will have two adult eagles. We are hoping for the better!”

LVM bird expert Uģis Bergmanis is one of the most experienced ornithologists in Latvia, he has been studying lesser spotted eagles for already 31 years.

This year, LVM supports and organises Lesser Spotted Eagle Monitoring in Latvia. Over the past few months, LVM employees have reported a number of new lesser spotted eagle nests in state forests, protective areas have been designated for the nests, and establishment of micro-reserves will be suggested for the autumn/winter period. LVM also thanks all residents who report nests of large birds found in state forests.