Common house martin via iStock.com / tonigenes

Common house martin named 2020 Czech Bird of the Year

The Czech Society for Ornithology has named the common house martin their Bird of the Year 2020

Prague, Feb 18 (CTK) – The common house martin is the Bird of the Year 2020 in the Czech Republic, the Czech Society for Ornithology (CSO) has declared, adding that it granted the travelling title to this species in order to highlight its shrinking habitats as a result of people’s activities.

Last year, the Bird of the Year was the European turtle dove.

The common house martin lives near human dwellings and leaves to spend winters in Africa. It is viewed as an omnipresent species, but not even ornithologists can say they know it perfectly, CSO director Zdenek Vermouzek said.

For example, it is still unclear where the birds exactly spend winters.

“We know that on their way to the winter habitats, common house martins overcome the Sahara, but their final destination is a mystery that experts across the continent are trying to solve. Despite dozens of thousands of rings we fixed on martins’ legs, not a single one has returned to us from countries situated south of the Sahara,” said Lukas Viktora, the CSO’s expert in the protection of birds in urban areas.

Nevertheless, the bird ringing has shown that common house martins always return to their nesting places in late April or early May.

“If they choose a building to nest on, it is a lifelong choice. Whole generations of martins inhabit the same building for many decades,” Viktora said.

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The common house martin has co-existed with humans for thousands of years. Most recently, however, it has been harmed by intensive large-scale farming that eliminates landscape diversity and reduces the amount of insects with its use of chemical substances.

Unfortunately, some people tend to destroy martins’ nests in an effort to prevent the birds from dirtying their houses’ windows, walls or balconies, Viktora said.

Another problem is drought, since the common house martin needs mud to build its nests.

The CSO has been granting the Bird of the Year title since 1992, when it went to the barn swallow, a relative of the common house martin.

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