Roller conservation in Upper-Kiskunság – Summary of 2018

2018.09.27.

This years’ field season has been full of hard work and closed with nice results again. Within the frame of the „Farmers for Roller” program saplings were planted in the area of Bösztör and Tass. Altogether 106 trees were planted with the active help of our volunteers. The repaired nestboxes were also re-installed in early spring to their original locations.

The season has been great: Rollers arrived earlier and in large numbers to the breeding habitats in contrast to 2017, when they only arrived in May. The long-awaited satellite-tagged Eleven showed up in the first days of May, nearly a month earlier than last year. We haven’t met him in person, he did not use the nestbox occupied in the previous years. Unfortunately we were not able to observe him despite of the many attempts. In early September he started the migration to Africa for the third time since carrying his “backpack” breaking the record of the satellite-tagged individuals in Hungary.


Eleven, the satellite-tagged Roller (Photo: Csaba Lendvai)

According to the timing of their arrival the birds started the breeding relatively early as well. Data shows that an individual laid eggs around 8th May already and started to incubate them (this time last year most of the birds were still in Africa or moved around the area of Bosporus). Monitoring of nestboxes and ringing of adults started in the second half of May. Altogether 79 adult birds were captured: 36 individuals of them received a new ring and 43 of them have been tagged in the previous years.


Release (Photo: Csaba Lendvai)


The ornithological ring and the green ring that serves as a location code (Photo: Csaba Lendvai)

Monitoring of nestlings started in the middle of June, when altogether 291 chicks have been ringed. In the area we are maintaining 206 nestboxes altogether. Rollers happen to breed even in the long shaped nestboxes installed for Little Owl, this year we found 3 pairs of them in these nestboxes. In 2018 we also monitored 59 nestboxes installed by Czech conservationists in the area of Kunszentmiklós, Tatárszentgyörgy, Kunadacs, Kunbaracs, Kunpeszér, Ladánybene and Lajosmizse.

The final results are the followings:

  • Altogether 142 pairs of Rollers were breeding in the monitored nestboxes, and 3 pairs used the long shaped nestboxes designed for Little Owl. That is altogether 145 pairs in the artificial nestboxes of the area we know of, and additionally we observed 4 pairs breeding in the areas natural cavities. Therefore the whole population of the studied area* is 149 pairs. In total 386 chicks grew up and fledged from the nestboxes according to the collected data. There were nestboxes monitored only in the egg-laying period where we recorded an additional 84 eggs, hopefully most of them hatched and the juveniles successfully left towards Africa.
  • Compared to last years’ 51 pairs this year 83 pairs were breeding in the nestboxes installed and maintained by us. (36 new nestboxes has been installed in 2018 and 14 pairs of Roller were breeding in them.)
  • 8 pairs were breeding in the nestboxes of the Hungarian Little Owl Protecting Public Benefit Association.
  • In the monitored 59 nestboxes of the Czech conservationists 50 breeding were recorded.
  • 4 pairs were breeding in other type of nestboxes.
  • 4 pairs were observed in natural cavities.


A clutch of 7 eggs: a very rare case (Photo: Csaba Lendvai)


A juvenile before fledging (Photo: Csaba Lendvai)

We have also recorded the breeding of Scops Owls in Roller nestboxes in 5 cases. These owls wintering in Africa use every year the big-sized D-type nestboxes in small numbers to breed. In the area of Dömsöd and Bugyi 11 nestboxes were occupied by Jackdaws, and Tree Sparrows were also found in several ones. Compared to previous years, only 2 nestboxes were taken by wild Honey Bees. They were moved out by beekepers successfully. Breeding of Great Tit has been also recorded in 1 nestbox around the municipality of Bugyi.

We would like to express our gratitude for everybody who contributed to the hard work of this years’ field season, namely: László Szász, Attila K. Szabó, Imre Juhász, Imre Bárdos, Dávid Sarlós, Zsolt Karcza, Katalin Lukács, Péter Ócsai, András Meszlényi, Hunor Győrfy, Olivér Schrodt, Katalin Ozogány, Gellért Bátky.

The work was supported by the European Union LIFE+ project „Conservation of the European Roller in the Carpathian basin” (LIFE13/NAT/HU/000081).

*Bugyi, Kiskunlacháza, Apaj, Dömsöd, Kunpeszér, Kunszentmiklós, Bösztör (Szabadszállás), Tass, Szalkszentmárton, Tatárszentgyörgy, Dabas, Pusztavacs, Ladánybene, Kunbaracs, Kunadacs, Lajosmizse, Vecsés, Üllő, Csévharaszt, Monor