The country of Romania is located in southeastern Europe, and is widely known around the globe for its medieval towns and the historic region of Transylvania, the location that the legend of Dracula is so strongly associated with. However, this article is not about vampires, but instead deals with the native birds that are found flying about the skies of the country.
The Squacco Heron, scientific name Ardeola ralloides, is a species of bird that is a small heron and a member of the Ardeidae Family of herons. Adults of this species grow to be around 17 to 19 inches (44 to 47 centimeters) in length from head to toe. The species also has a wingspan that is between 31 and 36 inches (80 and 92 centimeters) in length. The species had a buff-brown colored back and face, with wings that are very white in color. The species is also stocky, with a short neck and a short thick bill. This species habitat is in either permanent or temporary wetlands that usually have fresh water with a large amount of marsh vegetation, like swampy plains, river valleys, deltas, lakes and rice paddy fields. The diet of this bird is mostly made up of larval insects, although it has also been known to eat fish, frogs, tadpoles, mollusks, small birds and various insects. This species has an especially large range across Europe, Africa and Asia. It goes to Africa and southern areas in Asia for the winter. The species is found from Iceland down to South Africa and from Portugal as far east as Kazakhstan. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Squacco Heron has been listed as a species of least concern since 1988. However, its current population trend is unknown due to the species large range, although it is estimated that the European population of the species is stable. The major threats that the Squacco Heron faces are from the loss and degradation of its freshwater habitats due to woodcutting, wood burning and the changes in the flood regimes of rice paddy fields. The species is also known to be hunted and traded in certain locations, like the medicine markets of Nigeria.
The Steppe Eagle, scientific name Aquila nipalensis, is a species of bird that is an eagle and is a member of the Accipitridae Family of birds, which includes eagles, hawks, harriers, kites, and vultures. Adults of this species grow to be between 24 and 32 inches (62 and 81 centimeters) in length and had a wingspan that is between 5.4 and 7.1 feet (1.65 and 2.15 meters). This species has a mostly brown colored body with blackish colored tail feathers and flight feathers. Its beak is yellow with a black colored tip. The habitat of this species is in steppe and semi-desert areas. This species diet is mostly made up of various small mammals, though it also eats termites or small birds when wintering. This species has a decent sized range across Europe, Africa and Asia. It also goes to Africa and southern areas in Asia for the winter. This species is found from Romania to as far east as China and from Russia all the way down to South Africa. According to the IUCN Red List, the Steppe Eagle has been listed as an endangered species since 2015 and its current population trend is decreasing. The major threats that the Steppe Eagle faces are from the decline of its breeding range, conversion of its habitat to agricultural land and being directly persecuted, especially in eastern Europe. The species is also threatened by mortality from collisions with power lines and is vulnerable to the impacts of wind energy.
Conservation of Birds in Romania
There are initiatives that have been taken and policies implemented to try and help protect these and other native birds that are found in Romania. Both of the species discussed above have been listed in Appendix II of the Bern Convention and Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), which is also covered as part of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). The Squacco Heron is also listed on Annex I of the European Union (EU) Birds Directive, while the Steppe Eagle is listed as part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix II.