Russian Ornithological Journal 2015, Volume 24, Express issue 1092: 79-82
On the distribution of the steppe eagle Aquila rapax in the European part of the USSR by the end of the 1960s
Second edition. First publication in 1967
The steppe eagle Aquila rapax in the European part of the Soviet Union is an endangered species. Already from the first third of the 20th century, many researchers (Gintovt 1960, etc.) indicated a decrease in its number. Over the past decades, there has been a process of intensive crowding out of the steppe eagles not only from individual developed areas (Mironov 1946), and from and to most of the nesting area in the European part of the USSR. Under the condition of further intensive development by man of the eastern semi-desert regions in the near future, one should expect the complete disappearance of this species from the boundaries of this territory.
At the beginning of the 20th century, steppe eagles nested from the Balkan Peninsula in the west to the Amur Territory in the east (Menzbir 1904-1909), inclusively in Kharkov, Voronezh and Samara provinces (Kholodkovsky, Silantyev 1901). Now the nesting area of the steppe eagle in its western part has sharply decreased and covers only the southeast of Europe (Dementyev 1951), however, the information on the distribution of the steppe eagle in the European part of the USSR is often contradictory. This is due to the few observations on nesting of the species in the territory under consideration in recent years.
In our opinion, for the European part of the USSR, it would be more correct to say that the species in question lived and nested here in the past, and at present, in most of the marked territory, this bird does not nest and is not often found even on flights.
In recent years, L.F.Nazarenko et al. (1962) nesting of the steppe eagle was established for the northwestern Black Sea region (southern and southwestern sections of the Codr, some near-Prut and Dnieper forest dachas).
According to the data of Yu.V. Averin (1962), this species completely disappeared in the Moldavian SSR. S.V. Kirikov (1959) notes the nesting of the steppe eagle in Askania-Nova, the Proval and Strelets steppes, on the Black Sea coast and near Sivash. However, here the eagle is extremely rare.
* Kharchenko V.I., Minoransky V.A. 1967. On the modern distribution of the steppe eagle (Aquila rapax Tett.) In the European part of the USSR // Zool. journal 46, 6: 958-960.
M.V. Voinstvensky (1960) mentions that in Askania-Nova, Azov-Sivash Nature Reserve, Streletsky Steppe, only a few surviving pairs nest, which may disappear at any time, which may have already happened in some of these areas.
In the east, in some areas of the Krasnodar Territory, more recently, the steppe eagle nested. The last case of eagle nesting was recorded by us in 1955 in the Shcherbinovsky (now Yeisk) region. To date, this species, as a nesting species, has been lost and, apparently, irrevocably not only for the East Azov Sea (Kharchenko 1963), but also, probably, for the entire territory of the Krasnodar Territory.
In the Rostov Region, steppe eagles in small numbers live in the easternmost regions - Oryol, Proletarsky, Zimovnikovsky (Minoransky 1962). If we take into account that in 1960 there were only 5 nests, then, therefore, one nest accounted for an average of 63 km2. The total number of eagles nesting in the region is several tens of pairs.
In the Stavropol Territory over the past decades, the number of the steppe eagle has noticeably decreased (Fedorov 1955), only in some steppe, semi-desert and sandy areas this species is found in significant numbers (Volchanetsky 1958).
The development of the Don and Salsk steppes also led to a reduction in the number and displacement of the steppe eagle from them (Warsaw 1965).
The steppe eagle is common in the desert steppes of Kalmykia, where it forms the basis of the fauna of birds of prey in the summer (Bannikov 1959). In some places in the summer there can be found on an area of 100 hectares up to several tens of flying birds (up to 42) and one inhabited nest.
In some areas of Kalmykia, the concentration of residential nests of steppe eagles per 1 km2 is quite high. According to our data, in 1960 near the Troitsky state farm (near the village of Ovata) in 1960, 4 inhabited nests of steppe eagles were found per 1 km2. Three nests were located in the upper third of the slope of the beams. Here, from August 6 to 9, several young eagles were caught, their wingspan reached 1.40-1.55 m. In 1965, we found 2 inhabited and 1 abandoned nest there.
The data of S.N. Varshavsky (1965), P.A. Petrov and A.A. Rozhkov (1965), as well as the results of our observations, suggest that the region of high abundance of the steppe eagle in the Kalmyk steppes has moved to the coastal areas of the Caspian lowland - the zone “Prosperity” and the highest density of the small gopher gallbilus pygmaeus in the present period. So, taking into account the number of nests of steppe eagles in the spring of 1958 and 1959 in the Caspian and Chernozemsky regions of the republic, carried out on areas of 113, 318 and 110, 632 ha, showed that on average one inhabited nest or a pair of steppe eagles
accounted, respectively, for each 2698 ha and 3161 ha (Petrov, Rozhkov 1965).
In a noticeable amount, steppe eagles survived even in the southern regions of the Volgograd and Astrakhan regions. According to N.M.Semenov et al. (1962), in the Prisarpinsky steppes the steppe eagle and small ground squirrel can be attributed to the main components of biocenoses. Based on 3-year observations, it was established that 756, 5357, 1533 ha were accounted for in one residential nest.
In Nogai steppes in 1965, we managed to find two inhabited nests of steppe eagles located in the upper tiers of dilapidated nightmares. In Kabardino-Balkaria, the steppe eagle was occasionally observed only on the fly (Ivanov, Dmitriev 1961).
Thus, at present, the western border of the continuous part of the nesting area of the steppe eagle should be drawn not at the western borders of the USSR, but through the regions of the Rostov region that we have named. According to our observations, only separate nests far from each other are found to the west of the Rostov Region, and the range here is clearly spotty.
The reasons for the reduction in the number and nesting part of the range of the steppe eagle are the direct or indirect influence of human activity on it. A sharp reduction in the area of unused land, the extermination by humans of ground squirrels (until recently, the main feeding objects of eagles) and other rodents, the ruin of nests and the shooting of adult birds (especially until 1964) - these are the main reasons that cause a decrease in the number of this species and its crowding out European part of the USSR.
The literature has repeatedly noted the ability of steppe eagles to nest in a cultural landscape (Gintovt 1940, etc.), but, as a rule, under these conditions the chicks did not fly out of the nests. In the period from 1955 to 1965, we took into account 15 nesting attempts of steppe eagles in the cultural landscape of the Ciscaucasia (2 in the Krasnodar Territory, 4 in the Rostov Region, 7 in the Stavropol Territory, 1 in the Dagestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic). Only one nest (Dagestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, the vicinity of Kizlyar) safely flew 2 chicks.
The data presented suggest that although the fact of nesting of steppe eagles in a cultural landscape is possible, chicks safely fly out of their nests only in exceptional cases.
If the European part of the nesting area of the steppe eagle has declined sharply, then in the Asian part, individuals of this species are evicted outside the range (Warsaw 1959), i.e. expansion of breeding territory. This indicates a partial shift of the entire nesting part of the range from west to east.
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