Migrating birds put on some flesh

Its autumn and cranes Grus grus are flying to coastal zone of the Mediterranean Sea or Northern Africa to spend the winter, but in March they will return to their nesting places in Latvia. There are approximately 10 – 20 nesting crane pairs in Slitere National Park.

Cranes build their nest from reed and other plant parts on marsh isle or near to flooded territories. They made something like round bank where in the middle they lay two eggs. After a month chicks hatch and they are capable to follow their parents to seek for food just day after their birth. Cranes are vegetarians. They subsist on different plants, although, sometimes they feed on insects, frogs and even mice.


Birds - Putni (first part)

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus is a bird which quite often is mentioned in Latvian folk songs. That is because lapwings are easy to notice in meadows, pastures and on fields. In any case this species live also in swamps and peat fields. Slitere have a lot of forests while agricultural land is rarely seen, that is why lapwing nest in the open part of Bažu bog.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea and Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo are two species that nest in colonies close to water. Grey heron builds its nest in trees and sometimes in reeds of big lakes right onto fallen reed. Nest is quite sloppy and built from different branches where it lays 3-5 eggs. After about a month chicks hatch and stay in the nest for a few weeks. Parents regurgitate undigested food for the chicks to eat. As birds which feed on fish their droppings contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that cause burned out spots on the ground similar to what is going on under White storks nests.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos is common nesting bird in Latvia. Nest is made on the ground not far from river, lake or pond where 3 eggs are lay. Male and female is brooding alternately for about three weeks. When hatched, chicks leave the nest. Common Sandpiper is a migrating bird that spends winter in Africa. It feeds on different insects, caterpillars, earthworms and spiders.

Lesser-spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina is migrating bird which spends winter in Africa and South East Asia. It returns to Latvia in April and rush to occupy nesting territory. Lesser spotted eagle builds its nest in fork of deciduous tree branch or on side branches of a fir. Already in May two eggs are lay, however, only one chick usually survives. This is because the oldest chick kills the youngest one. Eagles feed on small rodents – voles and frogs. On First weeks of chicks life only male brings food to nest, while female sits on eggs and feed chick with small bits ripped off the game. Lesser spotted eagle is quite common nesting bird in Latvia. Here are nesting 3000 – 5000 pairs that are approximately 15 % of global population. Only 2-4 Lesser spotted eagles are nesting in Slitere National Park territory, as there are very few meadows where this eagle could prey.

You can see the life of Lesser spotted eagle via live web camera that is set somewhere in Teiči Nature Reserve. To find out more about this project visit www.pomarina.lv

White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla is the largest of diurnal birds of prey in Latvia. The widespread of wings reach up to 2.4m. It nests in grown forests usually not far from open waters – ponds, lakes or seas. Nest is build on top of a tree of solid branches. Number of White-tailed eagle has grown during last 10 years. Now in Latvia about 100 pairs are nesting. This year for the first time in Slitere National Park was found inhabited nest.

Hooded Crow Corvus corone cornix is a common bird in Latvia, usually can be seen all year. Most of those nesting in Latvia spend winter in Western Europe while hooded crows from East and North spend the winter in Latvia.

The mind of Raven Corvus corax is sometimes compared to intellect of a dog or monkey. They benefit from other animals by using them. For example, predators know where their prey is when see or hear ravens circle and croak above the forest. Ravens use this kind of showing, because they are not able to hunt down deer, moose or roe. They know that by showing wolves the pray there will be some leftovers for them to eat. Ravens use people similarly. Northern people knew that they would gain a kill by following ravens. And so they would always left bowels for ravens. This is why raven is sacred animal to Northern people and the killing of this bird is a sin.