Beech Marten was taped robbing a nest

The night before yesterday, a Beech Marten was caught on tape, and broadcasted live on the internet, climbing up a huge Imperial Eagle’s nest at the height of a 20 m, and ate the eggs of the Kestrel pair nesting there. Martens are widespread in Hungary, they are very clever and regularly prey on bird nests, nevertheless, it is hard to observe and as far as we know, this behaviour has never been recorded in their natural environment.

Live broadcasting from nests of birds of prey has become popular nowadays owing to several cameras showing day-to-day lives of raptors. People could watch what happened at a feeding station in the Jászság from autumn through early spring, and also an Imperial Eagle’s nest from spring through summer within the framework of the Helicon Life+ programme funded by the EU and coordinated by MME/Birdlife.

Associates of Termé and the Hortobágyi National Park left the cameras mounted at the Imperial Eagles’ nest, which was not occupied eventually last year, thus they could record interesting footages last year and this year, as well. After analysing the recordings from last year, we learnt that eight bird species paid a visit to the abandoned nest, and two of those (Common Kestrel and Mallard) even tried to nest there, however, their eggs disappeared overnight. We did not know what happened at that time, so we tuned up the system with infrared light to be able to record at night. Common Kestrels had occupied the nest from early spring on, and they even laid their first egg a few days ago. We could hope to follow them through the breeding season. The day before yesterday, however, a Beech Marten clambered up onto the nest during the night. The incubating female had left the nest before the furry predator arrived so it could eat the egg undisturbed.

Nest-robbing is common and a natural behaviour of the Beech Marten, taking conservation actions against them are usually not justified. Though, in certain cases (e.g. rare species of whose populations considered to be important in the EU. Martens can do serious damage in Red-footed Falcon colonies or single Saker nests) conservationists may attempt to keep them away applying various methods. Normally they pose little threat to large Eagles, nevertheless, it occurs from time to time, as it has probably happened in the Hortobágyi National Park recently, in a nest surveyed by camera.


Márton Horváth



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