The protection of the European roller in the Carpathian Basin

The EU Life+ funded project, the „Conservation of the European Roller (Coracias garrulus) in the Carpathian Basin” has been launched in September 2014. Romanian and Hungarian conservationists will join forces to protect and further strengthen the roller population.

The species has suffered a serious decline in the two countries since the 1980s, similarly to the rest of Europe. The main causes of the decline are thought to be the following: disappearance of adequate breeding and foraging areas, electrocutions caused by insufficiently insulated powerlines, and the threats faced during migration and wintering.

European roller (Photo: Tibor Horváth)

Due to the intensive agricultural practices, the short-grass plains do not provide adequate amount of food anymore for the rollers. The species often uses electric pylons as perches to hunt for their prey, which mainly consists of large insects and small vertebrates. If the pylons are not adequately insulated, the birds can suffer fatal electrocution. The suitable breeding sites are also decreasing. The roller is a secondary cavity nester, so the disappearance of old farm buildings and relating hollow trees seriously reduce their nesting opportunities.   

Conservationists will address all the above mentioned problems in order to achieve  long lasting and sustainable results. To realize this goal, they have compiled the following action plan:

  • undertaking demonstrative habitat reconstructions and installing nest boxes
  • promoting bird friendly agricultural management methods, as part of the Farmers for Rollers programme
  • mapping the migration routes, and identifying the wintering areas by applying satellite tags on birds
  • promoting and apply bird friendly insulation methods on electric pylons
  • raising public awareness in order to get more support for the species.  

A Roller Visitor Centre will also be opened as part of the project, located at Lake Fehér near the city of Szeged in south east Hungary. Visitors will be able to use the different facilities offered by the centre, such as a conference hall, accommodation, nature trail and an observation tower.

The main aim of the project is to achieve a 20 % increase in the European roller population in the project SPAs in both countries. Co-operation of land owners, conservationists and the electricity industry will be essential in order to achieve the long term sustainability of the species.

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