In the Stolowe Mountains there are over 200 species of birds. As these mountains are not very high there are not typically alpine species, however the local ornitofauna is characteristic because of the mountain species such as: spotted nutcracker, white-throated dipper, siskin or grey wagtail. The selection of bird species in the Stolowe Mountains is determined by such factors as great number of forests, domination of spruce trees, unfavourable climate and small number of water reservoirs. As the weather condition are very difficult here, especially in winter, there are only a few birds that visit this area at that time, and only few stay here permanently. One of the birds living here in winter is hazel grouse a very secretive bird belonging to Phasianidae family (order: Galliformes) It lives in damp, mixed coniferous woodland, preferably with some spruce, in places where there are many bushes, piles of branches or lying trunks. It builds a nest on the grounds and it is difficult to find its eggs. One can also very rarely see the female leading the nestlings. In winter time one can meet here mixed flocks of feeding tits accompanied by birds from other families. Such common feeding of various species has many benefits. Because the birds occupy different niches (goldcrests exercise on the thinnest branches and treecreepers climb the trunks) they do not disturb one another and they are more vigilant, which increases the protection from danger. Jay is a very common bird in the Park. It gathers into monospecies flocks and it can survive winter if it has enough seeds collected in many scattered hideouts. Another bird staying here all year long is a spotted nutcracker which similarly to jays collects food in pantries. However unlike jays, spotted nutcrackers are not very skittish and can be easily approached. This is the effect of relatively late contact of this bird with man to whom it has not command proper respect yet. Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Tengmaml's Owl and crossbill are other examples of that kind. Pygmy Owl is the smallest European owl with short wings and long tail which lead daily life. She finds short winter days really difficult to survive that is why she hunts almost all the time accumulating the excess of food in bird holes and nesting boxes. She usually preys on small birds hunting from the ambush, e. g. on chaffinches, tits, goldcrests, but she also eats small mammals and lizards. She can also prey on creatures as large as itself. During the hatching period it takes out nestlings from the nest of other birds. This is a simplified description of the forest in winter.
When the spring comes, the mountains are visited by newcomers from the south and from the lowlands. The holes are occupied by the black woodpecker, Tengmaml's owl and stock pigeon. This the only Polish pigeon nesting in holes. In the Stolowe Mountains National Park it hatches in beech and mixed forests, e.g. in Posna Valley. Beech forests being the remainders of primeval beech forests are also the hatching place of another species, grey-headed. In the early spring before the snow melting males drum and call in loud, giggling whistle. Its sounds are easy to imitate and that is why it is easy to lure the bird for close distance. This bird often digs up anthills to find larvae which it eats. In beech forest we can also meet red-breasted flycatcher and pied flycatcher. Which live in rotten holes and half-holes. Moreover, in spring beech forests resound with the singing of wood warbler. In deciduous forests it finds bright places which it prefers for tooting and hunting. Wood warbler's nests resemble the sphere with the side entrance. Similar nests are built by other species of this genus present in the Park, namely by willow warbler and chiffchaff. They build nests on the ground and hide them in the surrounding plants. Sometimes an observer can approach them really close because they are very engrossed in feeding their small ones. Another species preferring deciduous forest is honey buzzard, a rare relative of common buzzard. They can be distinguished from each other because the first one has a longer tail with regular, dark stripes and a narrow head resembling the cuckoo's head. It also more often than other birds of pray looks for food in the undergrowth and its favourite food is wasp's and bumblebee's larva which it takes out of the nests found on the ground.
In spring and summer predominating spruce forests are rarely inhabited by the species exclusively connected with this habitat. The exception is a crossbill which can be met here in great numbers especially in the years when the spruce seeds are abundant. Crossbill's beak is characteristic because the lower and upper jaw cross each other. Thanks to that feature the crossbill can easily take out rich in proteins seeds out of the cones. It closes the beak, turns its head and levers up the husk and takes the seed out with its tongue. It can do this trick even hanging upside down and clinging to the cone with the sharp claws. It sometimes also feeds on pine cones which are much harder but then it picks the cone to make eating easier and faster. In the younger spruce forests found in the Park one can come across a sparrowhawk's nests. It so small that one can see the tail of female incubating the eggs. The male tends to be aggressive and it may attack when you come close to the nest, sometimes even if the nest is not visible. Mistle thrush beside a song thrush belongs to the biggest and the most numerous group of thrushes in the Park. It looks for food on the ground and going along the Way of Hundred Turns after the rainfall one can observe these birds searching for caterpillars. A siskin spends almost its whole life high up in the tops of coniferous trees where it toots, preys and builds nests. This species is quite numerous in the Stolowe Mountains especially when the spruce trees abound in seeds. A bullfinch commonly regarded as the species visiting Poland only in winter also prefers coniferous trees and its whistling can be often heard. A dunnock, not long ago found here only in small numbers, nowadays can be often heard and seen singing in the treetops. It lays beautiful blue eggs in nests built in various places, such as a pile of brushwood, a small spruce tree or a root. In the Park there are a few species which are very flexible as far as habitat and nesting place are concerned. These are chaffinch and coal tit which are at the same time the most common species in the Stolowe Mountains. The latter can hatch in the root hole or in the gap in the wall. These are its nests that are most often found in nesting boxes placed around the Park. It can lay even up to 13 eggs twice a year. The former, on the other hand, nests willingly in the crowns of spruce trees where it stays out of reach of most predators. It builds its nest from moss, small roots and similar material which is bound with cobweb or insects' cocoons. This is such a numerous species that in season we can hear many males singing simultaneously in one place. When the spruce seeds are abundant one can observe large flocks of chaffinches preying in the undergrowth. In this place also a European robin and a wren are worth mentioning because these are birds nesting low above the ground and feeding usually in the undergrowth. The wren usually builds nest in the roots of windfallen trees which has the shape of delicate goblet covered at the top. This bird often jumps with the lifted tail especially when it is in danger. In the Park there are a few pairs of a hobby, one of the smallest falcons. They do not build nests themselves, but they uses nests of other birds, e.g. crows. This small falcon often chases swallows, larks, pipits or even swifts, but he is rarely successful. It is often worth to look for birds along the streams where one can meet such characteristic birds as a white-throated dipper and a grey wagtail. The former is especially dependent on clean swift streams where it gains the food paddling under the water with the help of strong claws and fanning wings. There it also finds the materials for building its nest which is always placed above water surface. The latter is also connected with streams, but it can sometimes do without them like those few pairs which inhabit human settlements in the Park. Wagtails happen to inhabit also broad clearings but only when the water reservoir is in the neighbourhood. Boggy places are visited by a black stork which comes here mainly in search of small fish or amphibians. This species is nowadays not endangered so its representatives can be quite often spotted in this area. It is less skittish than in the past and it happens to build its nest even in the presence of man. Wet habitats of different kinds are also inhabited by Eurasian woodcock. This is the only bird from Charadriiformes family which nests in the Stolowe Mountains where it finds really good living conditions. It is really numerous here. Mallard, the most common duck in Poland, prefers standing waters and peat bogs where it builds nests and leads its nestlings, even inside the forests, which is its recent habit.
Meadows are also worth visiting because one can easily meet there larks, meadow pipits or a whinchat having beautiful plumage. From the grass, especially in the evenings and at night one can here loud pitpiliting of a quail, clattering sounds of a corn crake or monotonous singing of a grasshopper warbler belonging to Passeriformes family. The last three species of birds are difficult to meet as they hide in the grass and rarely decide to use their wings even when they have to run away. Red-backed shrike keeps close to bushes, young forests, clearings and other open spaces.
Sandstones constitute a very interesting and unique habitat which also tempts birds. Eagle owl lays eggs on the well hidden ledges under the rocky overhangs. In the Stolowe Mts National Park there is really a record-breaking number of these owls in the range of the whole country. All year long its deep "uhu" can be heard from many kilometres. Its menu is very variable. It eats rodents, including rats, bigger birds including birds of prey and smaller owls, edible dormouse, frogs, etc. It can also cope with a fox, a cat, a peregrine falcon, and even a hedgehog, which is not feasible for any other European bird. Sandstones are very suitable also for a kestrel. This small falcon finds a safe shelter for hatching in the rocky niches on the steep sandstone walls and it hunts for small mammals in the surrounding meadows. Much bigger peregrine falcon also willingly chooses rocks where it builds nests in small cracks. Last pairs of this species were nesting in the Park yet in the 19th century. Nowadays you can come across them more often, mainly because the species was reintroduced in the Czech Republic. So far only tooting pairs which do not build nests in the area can be observed, but there is probability that they will nest here in the near future. All pairs of ravens living in this area build their nests in the rocks. Still at the beginning of the 20th century, the raven belonged to a rare bird in this area because of the pestering and shooting but it came back here in the 1980s. Nowadays thanks to protection you can hear its croaking almost in the whole Park. Other birds building nests among the rocks are black redstar and redstar, closely related thrushes with dark plumage. The former can be observed more often when it sits in a knee-bend position in the tree tops wagging its brick-coloured tail. Among rocks one can also meet a home pigeon which resembles wild species of rock pigeon from the south Europe and more rarely coat tits, wrens, Eurasian nuthatches.
Another group pf birds in this area constitute birds coming here only in the period of migration or hanging around. These are grey heron, geese, harriers, seagulls, buzzard, merlin, hoopoe, redwing, wheatear, Bohemian waxwing, brambling and others.
To specially protected species in the park belong black stork, Pygmy owl and eagle owl. According to an act and on the basis of the inner regulation of the Park Manager, eagle owl's reproduction places are turned into closed zones where no forest procedures can be conducted and no people are allowed. Eagle owl, Tengmalm's owl, Pygmy owl and regularly observed during hatching period redpoll are included in the Polish Red Book of Animals as rare. Corn crake is considered as a threatened species in Europe because its population quickly decreases in number in the western Europe as proper hatching habitats get smaller and smaller in size. Similar status has a quail occurring in the Park. Eagle owl, Eurasian woodcock and grey-headed woodpecker, kingfisher and wryneck belong to birds whose population decreases in the range of Europe. Unfortunately black grouse and wood grouse, present in this part of the Sudeten left the area of the Stolowe Mountains in the 1980s.
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Park Narodowy Gór Stołowych
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