Spring is officially in the air, and the season’s first returning white storks have already been spotted in some Czech villages, after having wintered in North Africa. In Slavic folk tradition, returning storks are not just a harbinger of spring but a good omen. And having a stork’s nest on your home or farm is thought to bring good luck. But a father-and-son team of Czech ornithologists say many myths about the birds are exactly that.
The first ever public bird census got underway in the Czech Republic on Friday. Over the course of the next three days, people can observe bird flocking on the feeders in their gardens or parks, identify the species and send the findings to the Czech Ornithological Society’s website. The purpose of the event is to discover more about the development of the country’s common birds.
Shorebirds are birds commonly found along sandy or rocky shorelines, mudflats, and shallow waters all around the globe. But a study co-authored by Czech scientist Vojtěch Kubelka shows that these birds are increasingly threatened with extinction. The research, recently published in the prestigious US magazine Science, reveals a link between nest predation and climate change on a global scale, but especially in the Arctic.
The Czech Ornithological Society is urging citizens to take an active part
in international Collision Count Week starting September 24.
During the course of that week people will be able to report glass panes which present a threat to birds and thus help lower bird mortality on the continent and beyond. Reportedly tens of thousands of birds die every year after flying into glass panes.
The outbreak of a dangerous African bird disease is killing blackbirds and other bird species in the Czech Republic. The mosquito-carried Usutu virus has spread to Europe from tropical and subtropical Africa and has been raising the bird toll across the continent. I spoke to Petr Voříšek of the Czech Society for Ornithology and I first asked him to tell me more about the disease.
The Little Owl (Athene noctua, sýček obecný in Czech) has been chosen as Bird of the Year by the Czech Society for Ornithology. Though common in Europe, Northern Africa, parts of the Middle East and Asia, population numbers of the owl fallen significantly over the last half century in the Czech Republic, disappearing from farmland areas; as a result the Little Owl is on the endangered list.
It is a well-known fact that there are various dialects in human languages, but not everyone is perhaps aware that the same holds true for birdsong. A new study by Czech scientists has researched the dialects of the yellowhammer, a tiny bright yellow bird of the bunting family, shedding light on the cultural evolution of birdsong. Scientists revealed that the original yellowhammer dialects thought to have gone extinct in Great Britain have survived in birdsong overseas, particularly in New Zealand immigrants.
The number of common birds in the Czech Republic continues to decline, according to the annual report on the environment for 2015. The report suggests diminished biodiversity and modern intensive farming methods are among the main factors behind the trend. The total number of birds in the Czech Republic has dropped by nearly six percent since 1982, with farmland species down by over 30 percent.