Critically endangered athenes are not doing well in the Czech Republic this year. Ornithologists counted only 62 chicks in 26 pairs. This number is similar to last year’s totals. The Czech Ornithological Society said the owl population is teetering on the edge of survival.
“Due to the poor season last year, there are few new males this year who are nesting for the first time, looking for new territories and females to strengthen the population. We recorded a total of 59 calling males, compared to 68 last year,” said Martin Šálek, coordinator of tit conservation at the Institute of Vertebrate Biology of the CAS and the Czech Ornithological Society.
The bad news is that ornithologists found unfertilized or stunted eggs at eleven nests, and adult athenes completely abandoned some clutches.
“A total of five nests were completely unfertilized or stunted. There are two likely causes or a combination of causes: cold weather at some stage of incubation and the effect of inbreeding, which can result in reduced reproductive capacity,” Šálek said.
It is on the verge of extinction
It is a critically endangered species in the Czech Republic and is on the verge of extinction with the last hundred or so pairs.
Long-term intensive agriculture is the primary cause of its decline in the Czech landscape, resulting in a loss of landscape diversity, large meadows, and other landscape features important to tit and other landscape inhabitants.
Once the most numerous owl in the Czech Republic, with tens of thousands of pairs, it is now the most endangered owl, with pairs numbering only in the tens.