Since thirty years ago, the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO-Birdlife) comes to naming a species of bird of our fauna as a “Bird of the year”: this appointment responds to the votes of partners and supporters to choose between a trio of species previously proposed by the entity.
The barn owl (Tyto alba) was just named “Bird of the year 2018”, work in shifts, so the Little bustard (2017) as it did with the sparrow (2.016)
In the vote that has given the title of “Bird of the year 2018” the barn owl got 1.719 supports in front of 1.134 which raised the kentish Plover and 943 the egyptian Vulture, the second and the third classified respectively.
The already long-list of birds of the year is growing with appointments say a lot in favour of the knowledge and the sensitivity of voters, as the reasons given for putting the spotlight on the problems that affect each species refer many times to the degradation of their territories, or to the abandonment of the rural environment. This is the case of our common Owl, the protagonist of this year has just begun.
This predatory night show preference for inhabiting environments humanized, which makes frequent visitor of the villages, bell towers, barns, churches, and cemeteries. This last habit has earned him in the middle of rural fame, creature, ghostly, and has been wrapped in legends and superstitions very detrimental to their conservation: it’s as absurd.
Because, in reality, the common owl is a relentless predator of small rodents, which would turn it into the friend of the farmers, and to grant absolute protection when you install your nest in the attic or under the roof of rural houses and barns.
It can be said that it is a rapacious very beautiful, but it must be recognized that his odd-looking appears to provide arguments for those who assimilate it to ghosts or terrifying creatures. Its ventral area, which is seen when it flies, it is almost completely white, as well as his face, with a face very pale bordered feathers that cover the eyes large and dark.
If that weren’t enough, the owls ululan, barking, emit high-pitched sounds, and fly in total silence thanks to the structure desflecada of their long feathers; an apparent phantom of the night that should have horror only mice.
As in the generality of the members of his family, his habits are nocturnal, although more frequently in some specimens they hunt in the light of the day. The ear is more effective and not only allows them to hear the movements of rodents to slice through the twigs, or to move among the grass, but locates its position with accuracy almost pinpoint.
There truly are no species of small rodent that inhabits the territory of an owl without paying an expensive tribute in the form of screenshots. The remains are not digestible, such as the skin or bones, are regurgitados and accumulate under the shelter or nests of the bird, allowing the researchers to identify the species of rodent, such as murine or microtinos, that are in the area only with the analysis of these remains digestive known as egagrópilas.
Reasons for an appointment
During the thirty years that he has been the p1oyecto “Bird of the year” to develop, tends to have a lot of importance to the consideration that the bird is in any circumstance dangerous, although you do not have to be necessarily critical. The common owl is not in danger of extinction but could become so.
A study conducted by 450 ornithologists fully documented has shown that this species, so useful to agriculture has suffered a reduction of their populations that reached a figure troubling, although variable in the different areas of Spain, between 13% and 50%. The Cantabrian coast and the North of Catalonia recorded the losses to a minimum, and the Mediterranean South, on the contrary, it shows the data more of a concern.
In times past, the famous ghostly of the owl and the aura of superstition which led to their presence in towns became a serious threat to her, and there were few farmers that were shot. Today, with the improvement of the information and intimidation which have led to the recent plagues of rodents, do not understand that nobody in his healthy judgment in violation directly against this predatory, which is moreover strictly protected.
But the new agricultural policies that involve the creation of large areas of monoculture without diversification, land consolidation or establishment of borders and small hedges, in which is frequent and sometimes excessive use of insecticides and rodenticides, are a problem for the owls; so is the abandonment of the rural environment, because let’s not forget the customs of sociability with the man that characterize this species.
The appointment of the barn owl as a “bird 2018” seems especially appropriate when we recall that Spain has to negotiate with the European Union several projects related to agricultural development, especially the one that refers to the call CAP, or Common Agricultural Policy.
The beautiful image of the white ghost of the night rural can provide a strong testimony to the need to prevent the depopulation of small towns and villages, and of the imminent need to manage the Field with the sensitivity that it deserves and needs.