Breeding Biology of Squacco Herons (Ardeola ralloides) in Northern Tunisia


This is a squacco heron video from Bulgaria.
I was lucky to see these beautiful herons in Greece, the Gambia and Morocco.

Analysis of 594 pellets of three heron species (Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis and Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides) collected at colonies in northern Tunisia (Ichkeul National Park, Lebna Dam and Chikli Island). Cattle Egrets consumed preferably insects (most important group in number and biomass), vertebrates did not exceed 1 % and 2 % (in number) and 4 % and 9 % (in biomass) respectively at Ichkeul and Lebna. The diet consisted in Coleoptera, Orthoptera (Caelifera, Gryllidae, Gryllotalapidae) and Hymenoptera (ants). Squacco heron nestlings were fed with annelids, crustaceans and mainly insects (62 % in number and 77 % in biomass) which included larvas of Odonata, Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets), Dermaptera (Forficula), Coleoptera and Hymenoptera. The diet of Little Egret consisted mainly in insects (76 % at Ichkeul, 98 % at Chikli). However the percentages of fish did not exceed 10 % and 2 % at both sites respectively: here.

Originally posted on North African Birds:

Nefla, A., Tlili, W., Ouni, R., & Nouira, S. (2014). Breeding Biology of Squacco Herons (Ardeola ralloides) in Northern Tunisia. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology126 (2): 393–401.  doi:10.1676/13-130.1


We studied the reproduction patterns of Squacco Herons, Ardeola ralloides, during 2009–2010. This study was carried out in two colonies located at Ichkeul National Park (37.184992 N, 9.633758 E) and Lebna Dam (36.744161 N, 10.916569 E), in northern Tunisia. We determined the reproductive performance of the species, and investigated the relationship between reproductive parameters and nest characteristics (height and diameter). We registered successful nesting, with mean clutch size of 4.51 ± 0.85 for both years combined. Hatching success was 3.67 ± 1.07 eggs hatched/nest and fledging success reached 3.06 ± 1.28 young/nest. All reproductive parameters varied between years. The diameter and the height of nest had no effect on the clutch size, the initial brood size, or the final…

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Saving Bulgaria’s imperial eagles

This video says about itself:

Stoycho Stoychev, Bulgaria – Whitley Awards 2014

8 May 2014

Whitley Award donated by Fondation Segré – The Imperial eagle as a flagship for conserving the wild grasslands of south-eastern Bulgaria.

From BirdLife:

Whitley Fund for Nature rewards BirdLife Bulgarian Partner for its work on the Imperial Eagle

By Elodie Cantaloube, Wed, 14/05/2014 – 08:36

The 2014 Whitley Awards Ceremony was held on the 8th of May at The Royal Geographical Society in London. Among the 9 organisations rewarded, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB; BirdLife in Bulgaria) received a Whitley Award donated by Foundation Segré for its project “The Imperial Eagle as a flagship for conserving the wild grasslands of south-eastern Bulgaria”.  The Ceremony was hosted by the English television presenter Kate Humble and the Awards were presented to the winners by WFN Patron, Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne.

For the sake of Bulgarian eagles, Bulgarian bird lovers and everyone else, one should hope that Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne of the United Kingdom on this occasion did not say stupid things about gassing or butchering animals, as she said about badgers and horses.

By the end of the 20th century, Bulgaria was known as the “country of eagles”. Nowadays, only eight Imperial Eagle nests remain in the country and yet they account for 20% of the EU population. The efforts from BirdLife Bulgarian Partner BSPB, aimed to establish the Imperial Eagle as a flagship for wild grassland habitats in order to bring the species back from the brink of national extinction whilst protecting other endangered species including the Saker Falcon, the European Souslik (ground squirrel), the Marbled Polecat and the Tortoise.

The colony’s decline is mainly caused by habitat loss, electrocution from over-head pylons, nest poaching and illegal killing. The accession of Bulgaria to the EU and agriculture subsidies heralded a large scale ploughing of grassland pastures, which has been threatening the remaining Eagle population. More profitable and environmentally friendly farming subsidies are available, but remain little known and difficult to apply for.

Within the framework of the project, BSPB has been providing support to Bulgarian farmers to apply for and implement agri-environmental measures that conserve the Eagle’s habitat while boosting the farmers’ incomes. Also, the organization has developed environmentally friendly businesses based on eco-tourism. Indeed, it was recognized that eagles can generate local income through bird watching tourism and sustainable farming. Finally, BSPB trained local communities in participatory monitoring and nest guarding in order to develop sense of ownership and responsibility among the community and ensure that conservation efforts last in the long-term.

“Our nest-guarding programme has significantly increased breeding success and the survival of juvenile eagles” commented Stoycho Stoychev, Conservation Director of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB). Watch the video and learn more about the project.

The work done so far by BSPB has highly contributed to the increase of the Imperial Eagle population in Bulgaria, which has doubled over the last decade to reach 25 breeding pairs.

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK registered charity offering awards and grants to the world’s most dynamic nature conservationists and supporting projects founded on good science, community involvement and pragmatism.

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Beautiful bird recorded in Libya for the first time

This video from Bulgaria is called Ficedula semitorquata – Semi-collared Flycatcher.

Ever since in 2011 in Libya a movement with legitimate grievances was hijacked by domestic religious fanatic militarists, foreign Al-Qaeda militarists, foreign militarists like the Qatar dictatorship and “regime change” NATO miltarists, there is often bad news from Libya.

From racism to torture on many days to especially today, refugees fleeing Benghazi from the violence of a warlord general. That general is called Khalifa Hifter, with a second job as CIA agent), who started violence today in Tripoli as well (see also here).

Fortunately, sometimes there is better news.

From North African Birds blog:

First documented record of Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata) for Libya

Posted on 17/05/2014

Hamza, A. & Yahia, J. 2014. First documented record of Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata for Libya. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 21 (1): 83-85. PDF

An adult male Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata was photographed on 31 March 2010 at Sebkhet Hasila, on the Libyan coast about 90 km east of Sirte. Two previous observations of males were reported at two different sites between Ajdabiya and Benghazi, on 29 March and 1 April 2006. The observation presented here, however, is the first documented record for the country of this Palearctic migrant.

World Wetlands Day 2015 was celebrated in Maitiga marsh in Tripoli, with the Libyan Society for Birds (LSB) and the Environment General Authority (EGA) of Libya. This worldwide event is held annually on 2 February to raise the awareness and understanding of the importance of wetland ecosystems. Along Libya’s Mediterranean coastline you can find several waterbird species, including Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii and Great Snipe Gallinago media. These wetland sites are important for many flora and fauna species; however, significant threats include habitat loss and the traditional hunting of waterbirds: here.

Fezzan province (Libya) is a segment of true Sahara, is characterized by diverse habitats that are utilized as shelters and feeding ground for many desert wildlife species. Oases with water table near the surface are the most prominent feature in the Libyan desert. The diversity in habitats resulted in diversity in wildlife, as well as the plant cover (trees and bushes) is the most effective factor for the existence and the abundance of wild animals, in particular bird species. This study observed many species of reptiles, birds and mammals. In the study is also reported the rock hyrax Procavia capensis Pallas, 1766 (Hyracoidea Procaviidae) a rare and endemic species at the area: here.

LIBYAN President Nouri Abusahmein ordered Islamist-led militias to deploy in the capital Tripoli today after forces loyal to General Khalifa Hifter stormed parliament. Gen Hifter’s action threatens to detonate volatile divisions among the multiple militias that dominate Libya: here.

Heavily armed militiamen reportedly loyal to a retired general with deep ties to the US Central Intelligence Agency stormed Libya’s parliament building Sunday with armored vehicles and heavy weapons, seizing its speaker and armed forces chief Nouri Abusahmain together with some 20 other officials and setting the building on fire: here. And here.

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