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International flight from Spain to Bulgaria — Lesser Kestrel recovery in the Sakar SPA

Extinct as a breeder in Bulgaria, today the Lesser Kestrel is the focus of huge efforts by conservationists to bring about its recovery in Bulgaria. Green Balkans from Bulgaria and DEMA from Spain, with financial support from the EU LIFE fund, are working together to bring back the Lesser Kestrel as a breeding bird in the Sakar SPA, and to enhance its conservation status at national level.

Using the so-called ‘hacking’ method, juveniles bred in captivity at the specialised breeding facilities of DEMA and Green Balkans are raised in an aviary with foster parents and later released. This method is based on the long-term experience of DEMA, which has successfully implemented a series of similar initiatives in Spain and France. As a result of these actions, a total of 286 Lesser Kestrels were released/fledged in the Sakar SPA from 2013 to 2015.

The project is already showing results. Thanks to these conservation activities, the first breeding Lesser Kestrel pairs for decades have already been recorded in Bulgaria: 8 to 9 pairs in 2014, and 9 to 13 pairs in 2015. Most of them bred in the special artificial nest boxes provided by the project team. This is an excellent example of a positive cross-border partnership that has resulted in the recovery of a species considered extinct as a breeder in Bulgaria.

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