Do you like animals? How about nature? I enjoy taking long runs through the Slovak countryside and the animals I see are absolutely incredible! Watching the animals interact with each other from deer to wild pigs and field rabbits to falcons is very fascinating to watch.
Birds of prey such as falcons, eagles and hawks are all over Slovakia, especially where I live. The farmers’ fields make excellent hunting grounds for these incredibly large and fast birds. When I am on a train I can see a lot of nests as I “fly” by different sceneries. Their nests are extremely large. Some can be up to ten feet wide, so they are easy to spot from a moving train. It’s funny too, because they can be on top of the weirdest objects, like telephone poles and electrical towers. The falcon, or sokol as it is called in Slovak, is very easily seen when I go running in the daytime. They hover over fields scanning for prey, or things to eat. They are incredible hunters and extremely fast and clever. It’s absolutely amazing to watch them hunt and scout for things to eat. Many people enjoy hunting with birds of prey in Slovakia, which is when they train these birds to hunt for small animals. When these birds are flying they look very small, but when you can see one on someone’s arm, it’s a whole other story! Some falcons and eagles are huge!
What does this creature or plant look like?
There are many different types of falcons in the world; there are even some in New York City! There are eight different species of falcons in Slovakia. I am not that talented of a birder, someone who watches birds to fun, so I can’t discern or tell the difference between the different species. However, the different species of falcons differ in color and size. Some can have a wing-span, the distance from one wing-tip to another, of two feet, and others like the gyrfalcon can have a wing-span on five feet! That’s a big as me!
Eagles are larger than falcons and there are six species of eagles in Slovakia. The golden eagle is my favorite because I see them very often when I’m walking around the farmers’ fields. Their wing-span can be up to seven feet wide, and their brownish-golden coloring makes them incredible to look at.
All birds of prey have two features in common; their sharp beaks, and long talons or claws. These make them better hunters. They also have incredible eyesight. Their bodies are also built for their environments much differently than other bird species such as water birds. Birds of prey are designed for hunting, and some species bodies are so aerodynamic, or stream-lined, that when they are hunting and diving they can reach speeds over 200 miles per hour.
How did I feel when I saw it?
Whenever I see an eagle I am left in awe, because they are such large birds and so graceful to watch. The power these birds have is incredible to think about, especially as I watch them float on warm air currents. Do you ever wish you could fly? That’s how I feel when I watch an eagle soar over a field of sunflowers in the late summer, or a falcon dive from a grey sky onto a snow-covered field. It’s incredible to watch their aerobatic stunts!
Where does it live?
These birds of prey live all over Slovakia; in the mountains and cliffs of the High Tatras and the valleys below. Some species that are found in Slovakia are also found in the US!
What can harm this creature or plant?
Humans are the main threat to these birds, because development affects their breeding and hunting grounds. Many of these birds have very specific rituals for mating or reproducing, and human impact on the environment, such as building new roads, mining and even hiking, can have a negative impact on their ability to reproduce and continue as a species. Another factor affecting the survival of these birds are the pesticides used on farms in Slovakia. Farmers spray their fields with pesticides or poisons to kill bugs and small animals that eat their crops, and then the birds eat the poisoned animals.
How does it use its environment to survive?
Despite increased development in Slovakia, these birds have adapted well and many build nests on telephone poles and electrical wires. The farmers’ fields also attract a lot of small animals that the birds eat, so the fields are excellent hunting grounds for these birds.