Prague, Feb 6 (CTK) – Little owl has been declared the Bird of the Year 2018, a title the Czech Society for Ornithology (CSO) annually gives mainly to widespread species but this time it chose an endangered one in order to warn against the decline in the bird species diversity caused by humans.

Only 100 to 300 pairs live in the Czech Republic at present, CSO said.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the little owl was the commonest owl species in the country, but its population has dramatically shrunk since. At present, it is the most endangered owl, mainly as a result of intensive farming that has changed the healthy environment into a place unfriendly to birds.

The little owl is an indicator of a healthy agricultural landscape and wildlife diversity. That is why it definitely deserves our attention, CSO director Zdenek Vermouzek said.

Originally, little owls nested in tree holes, but they gradually moved closer to people’s settlements and now they nest exclusively in buildings.

They lose the nesting opportunities as a result of the reconstruction and insulation of buildings and the disappearance of meadows and pastures where their prey lives.

Furthermore, almost 20 percent of dead little owls perished drowning in barrels with water or swimming pools.

Ornithologists take measures to make such dangerous places harmless. Besides, they have installed dozens of owl houses for the little owl to nest in, Martin Salek, the CSO’s coordinator of the little owl protection, said.