Celebrating 10 years since the return of the Lesser kestrel in Bulgaria

Jan. 11, 2024
In 2024, it will be 10 years since, thanks to the efforts of Green Balkans, the white-billed kestrel returned to nature in Bulgaria after decades of absence.

That's why our team will mark the event with a series of initiatives throughout the year!

But let's take a look back in time and see the retrospective of this remarkable conservation success!

In 2013, within the framework of the first of the series "Recovery of the Lesser kestrel" projects of Green Balkans LIFE11 NAT/BG/360, financed by the LIFE program of the EU, 90 Lesser kestrels, hatched in the aviaries of the our partners from DEMA, Spain were transported and released into Bulgaria's nature.

The first pair of birds in the wild was formed in the spring of 2014. The first "wild baby'' Lesser kestrel hatched in the colony of the species in the Sakar village of Levka in May of the same year.

From then until now, we have registered a total of three colonies of the species in our country. Two of them - the one in Sakar and the one in Stara Zagora, formed within the current project "Life for the Lesser Kestrel" LIFE19 NAT/BG/001017 implemented by Green Balkans and financed by the LIFE program of the EU, have been formed, thanks to the efforts of our team. The third colony, discovered by our field partners near Burgas, was registered after the start of our activities on the recovery of the species.

The national population of the Lesser kestrel is now estimated at over 40 pairs, being 0 at the start of our activities.

During these 10 years, a total of 1,315 were the juvenile birds that were hatched and released into the wild, and for the rearing and adaptation of which the team took care. Some of them originate from the "wild colonies" in Sakar and Stara Zagora, and others – from the aviaries of the Rescue Center of Green Balkans, the Spanish organization DEMA and various zoos from Europe.

The artificial nests placed by the Green Balkans team in the area of the three colonies are 138. These are places to shelter families of kestrels and which are a safe home for their youngs.

More than 10 locations for pre-migration aggregations of the species in southern Bulgaria have been confirmed.

The Lesser kestrel is one of the four species that we from Green Balkans, together with various partners, managed to restore in the nature of Bulgaria for the last 20 years. Along with it, there are also the Griffon vultures in Balkan mountain, the Cinereous vulture and the Seeker falcon.

It is also one of the first species of bird, not only in Bulgaria, but also on the entire Balkan Peninsula, that has been recovered after its extinction!

The year 2024 for our team will pass under the sign of this remarkable success, as we promise it will be filled with a series of events in which, together, we will celebrate this dream come true! Because it is an excellent result not only for the Green Balkans, but also for Bulgaria, as the first country in the Balkans, in which purposeful efforts are being made not just to preserve biodiversity, but also to bring back extinct species!

Hristina Klisurova - Public Relations
Phone: 0886570053
Gradimir Gradev - project manager "Life for the Lesser Kestrel"
Phone: 0885609289