article by PannonEagle
Every year, BirdLife Hungary and the Hungarian National Park Directorates inspect all known Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) nests in the country. This summer, 137 eagle chicks were ringed, and three chicks were equipped with satellite transmitters.
During these annual checks, remains of prey and eggshells are gathered, as well as DNA samples of feathers, in order to collect as much information as possible about this declining species, currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. These birds only breed once a year and unfortunately, almost one third of all breeding attempts fail. When the breeding is successful, only one, two, or on very rare occasions, three chicks fledge.
This year, however, the researchers found something extraordinary. In one of the well-known territories of Körös-Maros National Park, four healthy Imperial Eagle fledglings were found in the same nest, which is unprecedented in Hungary.
The nest with the four siblings was later found empty, meaning they all fledged successfully. Globally, there are only four reports of a single nest with four Imperial Eagle chicks, but the actual fledging of four birds has never been proven… until now! As far as we know, this is a world record! All chicks received ornithological rings, and we hope to meet them again in the future.
Earlier reports of similar cases:
- 2008, Ukraine: three healthy young chicks, and a weaker, smaller sibling were photographed by Ukrainian researchers, but the nest was not checked later, and the faith of the chicks remains unknown.
- 2009, Kazakhstan: a nest with four eggs was found, but the nest was not checked later, and the faith of the chicks remains unknown.
Recent cases recorded during the Pannon Eagle Life project:
- 2018, Austria: a nest with four chicks was found, but unfortunately the chicks fell out of the nest and died.
- 2018, Hungary: the remains of a chick were found under the nest with three chicks in it.