Lesser Kestrel adopted the first artificial breeding structure in Gorayk IBA in Armenia!

24 July 2009 | News story

Lesser Kestrels adopt their First Breeding Structure in Armenia
Lesser Kestrel is a small falcon breeding in Gorayk IBA which is South of Armenia. It is endangered globally and is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild (IUCN Red List, 2007).

In Gorayk IBA the colony of birds is located at over 2,000 m occupying a TV broadcasting station, which is a high rise concrete building with roof cavities surrounded by pasture meadows and cereal fields. When the colony was initially located it counted ca. 20 pairs and was then spotted to decline gradually with years. Based on some research undertaken during those years the reason for that decline was attributed to reduced nest-site availability as some roof repair work was done by the hosting TV management. It had eventually blocked the access to some nests and birds switched to a different, less suitable building.

In 2008 ASPB worked with local schoolchildren to build 18 artificial nest boxes and secure breeding of Lesser Kestrels in the site. That year pairs of Lesser Kestrel adopted 7 artificial nest boxes!

The problem
After the good news were shared, the site was revisited and it was discovered that local TV administration plans to dismantle one of the buildings hosting the birds and the nest-boxes, in order to use fragments of concrete wall for construction purposes. Preliminary negotiations allowed to at least postpone their intervention until the breeding season was over. Limiting the nesting of birds could result in the loss of entire colony in very short periods of time.

A Win–Win Negotiation!
Building on the efforts of other BirdLife partner organizations in recovering their national LK populations, ASPB received a very timely support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Ornithological Group Les Grangettes (Switzerland) through SVS/BirdLife Switzerland to secure the long-term viability of the species in Armenia through construction of a breeding facility with nest-cavities installed inside. Studies suggest that Lesser Kestrels prefer buildings with many roof and wall cavities, so typically a building with nest cavities and inner chambers was considered for Gorayk IBA.

As a result of the second round of negotiations the national TV station agreed to rent out ASPB one of the abandoned structures in order to repair walls and place a two-storied breeding structure for Lesser Kestrel colony. After reaching the consensus and signing the contract, a new breeding facility with 30 new nest boxes was mounted and made available to birds. A total of 48 nests were built in Gorayk IBA.

The Good news!
This year during our visits in late spring /early summer it was discovered that pairs of Lesser Kestrel occupied the first artificial breeding structure in Gorayk IBA. As the breeding is still in progress, monitoring of birds is underway and will continue through the end of the breeding season 2009 to measure their nest occupancy rate. This conservation effort is unique in Armenia, not been implemented hitherto, and it is hoped that it will contribute to the protection of the species population in the country.

More info:  ASPB