The Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is a beautiful and almost mystical bird that has long attracted people’s attention thanks to its way of life. But today Western Capercaillie are increasingly rare. Their number has already dropped dramatically. For example, in Slovakia in extensive part of mountain forests, have already become extinct.
Statistic says that since 1972, their number has decreased by more than 75%!
Western Capercaillie is extremely threaten
The Western Capercaillie faces extreme endangerment in many European countries due to habitat loss and human activities. Countries such as Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia have witnessed a sharp decline in Capercaillie populations. Intensive forestry practices, habitat fragmentation, and disturbances during the breeding season have significantly contributed to their precarious status and have diminished the bird’s suitable habitats.
Capercaillie is indicative species
The Western Capercaillie is important indicative species, reflecting the health of its forest ecosystems. This iconic bird serves as a crucial indicator of the overall biodiversity and ecological balance in its habitat. The well-being of the Capercaillie is intertwined with the health of forests, making it an essential species for monitoring environmental changes. As a sensitive barometer of ecosystem conditions, it presence and population trends provide valuable insights into the broader health and sustainability of the diverse ecosystems it inhabits.
Capercaillie in Slovakia
In Slovakia the last fragments of Capercaillie populations still survive only high up in the mountains. It is an area, where snow covers the ground for more than 5 months of the year and where even the trees themselves are straggling on the edge of survival. This bird is today so rare, shy and mysterious that people hardly catch a glimpse of its presence.
The Capercaillie, an iconic forest bird in Slovakia, faces significant threats to its existence. Habitat loss due to massive deforestation, coupled with increasing human activities in forested areas, poses a grave challenge to the survival of this majestic bird.
This bird is facing an alarming population decline in Slovakia, primarily due to habitat loss. The second reason is the increased number of people working and visiting the last remnants of its habitat. Deforestation, more intensive forestry practices and forest fragmentation have significantly reduced the size of habitats suitable for their existence. Human activities during the breeding season further multiply the threats and disrupt the basic principles of its existence. It turns out that it is also significantly affected by climate change, which affects and changes its traditional biotopes.
The disappearing world of the Capercaillie
For millions of years, this bird lived in close connection with the unique mountain forest environment. This type of forest provided shelter for him as well as many other rare species of organisms. However, none of them were as mysterious and unknown as the Capercaillie.
This bird was the icon of the natural mountain forest since ancient times. Today, this forest is at the edge of extinction, and with it also Capercaillie. The disappearing natural mountain forest thus became a symbol of the extinction of this bird.
In previous centuries, the Capercaillie thrived in Slovakia’s expansive and unfragmented old-growth forests. These pristine habitats, characterized by a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees, provided ideal conditions for his courtship and mating rituals. This species was particularly abundant in remote, undisturbed forests, where its unique habitat preferences and ecological niche were integral to its historical distribution and population dynamics in Slovakia.
Today, this situation is history. Biotopes of mixed mountain forests survived only in small fragments. They disappeared and are still disappearing at the present time, either as a result of their economic use, or as a result of natural disturbances such as wind and snow storms, followed by overpopulation of bark beetles.