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Telemetric monitoring of eagle owls

With an estimated number of 400 breeding pairs, the eagle owl is almost present throughout Schleswig-Holstein. Aim of this telemetry study is to provide a more accurate estimate of the risk for eagle owls to collide with wind turbines. Habitat use and flight behaviour of the nocturnal eagle owl in the vicinity of existing wind farms will be investigated using modern satellite telemetry systems. It is planned to collect data for several eagle owl breeding pairs (tagging of ten adult birds) over a period of two years. The study is the first of its kind in Schleswig-Holstein and is carried out on behalf of the Landesverband Eulen-Schutz Schleswig-Holstein funded by the the Ministry of Energy, Agriculture, the Environment, Nature and Digitalization (MELUND). Cooperating partner is the Bielefeld University.

The GPS/GSM transmitters were purpose-developed for this project. They were programmed to record one GPS location per hour during the day and two GPS locations per hour during night. An acceleration sensor enables to detect flight movements which are recorded with a resolution of one GPS location per second resulting in high resolution, three-dimensional recordings of the flight. Data is transmitted once per day and can be accessed online.

Eagle owls equipped with backpack GPS transmitters. (Click the image to enlarge.)

In 2017, four adult birds from three territories were equipped with transmitters in the Schleswig area. Decisive for the choice of these eagle owls was spatial vicinity of the eagle owl territories to wind farms. In case of two of the breeding sites a total of 12 wind turbines are located within the area of possible impact (1 km) and about 60 wind turbines in the range of verification for feeding sites (4 km).

First results

For further information please refer to the following documents (in German):

Grünkorn, T. & Welcker, J.
Raumnutzung und Flugverhalten von Uhus im Umfeld von Windenergieanlagen im Landesteil Schleswig.
EulenWelt, 2018, p.39-42
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Grünkorn, T. & Welcker, J.
Erhebung von Grundlagendaten zur Abschätzung des Kollisionsrisikos von Uhus an Windenergieanlagen im nördlichen Schleswig-Holstein
Endbericht im Auftrag des Landesverbandes Eulen-Schutz Schleswig-Holstein e.V. und Ministerium für Energiewende, Landwirtschaft, Umwelt, Natur und Digitalisierung (MELUND), Schleswig-Holstein (2019)
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Thomas Grünkorn

Thomas Grünkorn