Issue 2013-4

Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 225–236

Changes in the House Sparrow Passer domesticus population in cities and towns of Poland in 1960–2010

Andrzej Węgrzynowicz

Abstract: The paper presents an analysis of changes in the House Sparrow Passer domesticus numbers in Polish cities and towns from the 1960s to the first decade of the 21st century based on published data. The long-term data from 294 study plots (50.6 km²) illustrate changes in numbers of breeding House Sparrows, and allow to calculate mean densities for successive decades. Data collected in 34 Polish cities and towns, in two types of urban habitats – housing estates and parks (including cemeteries and squares) were used. The frequency of occurrence of the House Sparrow in housing estates has not changed over the years – it was recorded as a breeding species on 98–100% of plots in particular periods. In 1960–1979, 1980–1989 and 1990–1999, mean densities of House Sparrows in this habitat ranged from 57.3 to 84.2 pairs/10 ha. However, in the 2000s the density was much lower (18.5 pairs/10 ha). The frequency of occurrence in parks, a suboptimal habitat, decreased from 62–76% in 1960–1999 to 34% in the 2000s, and the mean densities from 5.5–9.1 pairs/10 ha to 1.4 pairs/10 ha, respectively. The results indicate that the sharper decline of the House Sparrows numbers in Polish cities/towns began on the turn of the 20th century and has been continuing until now, but some signals of a crisis in the House Sparrows population had been recorded before.

Key words: House Sparrow, Passer domesticus, decline in abundance, urban habitats

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Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 237–246

Distribution and abundance of the Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus in Kraków

Arkadiusz Fröhlich, Michał Ciach

Abstract: In 1986–2012, a total of 225 observations of the Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus in 133 locations in the city of Kraków (south Poland) were recorded, including a total of 89 observations of breeding and probably breeding pairs. During the breeding season the birds have used primarily urban greenery (parks, trees among buildings and along communication routes), urban woodlots and gardens, and to a lesser extent, allotments and cemeteries. In 2012, the density in the single large-area sample plot was 5.5–7.5 pairs per 10 km². The Syrian Woodpecker territories were located primarily in areas dominated by the old, dispersed settlements and where mature trees of large size were present. Breeding territories were found also in a mosaic of greenery near the railway tracks and in urban areas, in park, cemetery, in woodlots along the river and woodlots along the railway tracks. Nesting holes (N=14) were excavated in five tree species, although the White Willow Salix alba dominated. The average height and diameter at breast height of nesting trees was 10.8 m (SD=6.7, range 5–25 m) and 40.7 cm (SD=11.4, range 25–61 cm), respectively. Holes were located an average at the height of 4.3 m (SD=1.7, range 2,5–9 m). Results of this study indicate that the number and density of the Syrian Woodpecker in urbanized environments may have been relatively high, and city populations may have been significantly higher than it was expected before. Colonization of a niche yet free from other woodpeckers, may be the cause of the ongoing expansion of the species. The abundance of urban populations of the Syrian Woodpecker and its habitat preferences suggest that in the forthcoming years, a further expansion and ingress into the cities of western and northern Poland may be expected.

Key words: Syrian Woodpecker, Dendrocopos syriacus, city, urbanization

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Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 247–256

Changes in the breeding avifauna of the Rakowice Cemetery in Kraków over last 40 years

Mateusz Albrycht, Michał Ciach

Abstract: The highest species’ diversity occurs at the intermediate level of urbanization, and urban green areas greatly influence bird species composition and abundance. The aim of this study was to compare the breeding bird community of the Rakowice Cemetery in Kraków (south Poland), at present and in 1974. After nearly four decades breeding bird density decreased from 57.9 pairs/10 ha to 48.4 pairs/10 ha. However, nine species associated with farmland disappeared, while five forest species appeared instead. Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus, Fieldfare Turdus pilaris, Robin Erithacus rubecula, Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, Starling Sturnus vulgaris, Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus, and Nuthatch Sitta europaea increased in numbers most significantly. A disappearance or a considerable decline of House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Tree Sparrow Passer montanus, Serin Serinus serinus, Greenfinch Chloris chloris and Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina was noted. The changes of birds abundance were presumably caused by the growth of trees height and age and increasing number of tree hollows. The decline of several species, on the other hand, was most likely caused by the decreasing amount of areas covered with lawns, the reduction of shrub coverage, modernization of the cemetery chapel, and the progressive urbanization of the cemetery surroundings, which leads to the isolation from rural areas.

Key words: breeding bird community, urbanized environments, urbanization, cemeteries, urban greeneries

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Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 257–278

Birds and overhead powerlines. Types of interactions, their reasons and effects for avian populations

Karol Kustusch, Andrzej Wuczyński, Arkadiusz Gorczewski

Interactions between birds and above ground powerlines are a complex phenomenon, important for both avian populations and human economy. This paper reviews studies analysing powerline effects on bird mortality, its scale and importance. Overhead powerlines affect mortality of most birds species. However, mortality risks vary considerably among taxonomic groups and populations. In some cases powerlines may even cause the extinction of local populations. Collisions with powerlines have been recorded among most avian taxa, though their frequency is higher in species with low flight maneuverability and limited ability to see powerlines. Electrocution generally affects larger species. The most widely affected group are Anseriformes, Gruiformes, Ciconiformes, Charadriiformes, Accipitriformes, Falconiformes and Passeriformes. Mortality rate is associated with the location of powerlines and the type of network. Sometimes birds benefit from the presence of powerlines e.g. by using them for nesting or as vantage points. In contrast, the presence of birds may have an adverse effect on powerlines: their nests and faeces may lead to electrical short-circuits and hinder renovations works generating extra costs for the management of powerlines.

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Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 279–292

Why the mapping data from the quick survey methods should not be used to calculate densities or percentage share in the community?

Ludwik Tomiałojć

To check to what extent the results of quick mapping of bird territories differ from those from a laborious combined mapping method, the bird counts were repeated during the breeding season of 2011 and 2012 over a part of the 10.5 km2 large plot quickly censused by G. Kopij (2004) in 2003. The results could be directly compared for the tree-covered part (93 ha) area of urban Szczytnicki Park, where in 2003 the birds were “quickly mapped” (6 short visits spread over 4.5 months) and then repeated in 2011–2012 using the combined mapping method (9–11 slow visits spread during 3 months). Overall time expenditure per unit area was 6–7 times higher recently than in quick mapping. Combined mapping result for 2011 has here been assumed as nearly true, owing to excluding from counts four or one of the most numerous species and almost an absence of two difficult ones (Song Thrush and Hawfinch). The 2012 data are less certain for late species owing to a lack of June visits. A less rigorous test has been performed over the periurban, sporadically flooded embankments along three sections (9 km in total) of the Odra River and its channels. Two careful (slow, many contemporary records) combined mapping counts were carried out there during the late June and early July 2011 (tab. 3), to register mostly meadow, bush and reed birds. Combined mapping results when compared to those from “quick mapping” over the same area have revealed in both tested habitats that: a) both methods have fairly similarly reflected the bird distribution in a mosaic of habitats, b) though in Szczytnicki Park for c. 19 species (scarce or easy) also the numbers were similar, yet for many other species the combined mapping data were 2–5 times higher than quick mapping data, c) bird numbers over the water embankments have been found 2–7 times higher than those from earlier quick counts. The habitat was largely unchanged between compared years and available control data from smaller plots censused consistently with combined mapping (tab. 2, updating earlier results by Tomiałojć 2011) exclude a possibility that the differences are mostly the yearly fluctuations in bird numbers. Sharp actual changes in abundance were limited to a few species which were omitted in the test. Quick mapping data when covering large plots appear to distort the proportions between abundance of most species, registering it in an species-specific array from c. 20% to over 100% of true numbers. Properly estimated species, usually scarce ones, constituted one fifth of the joint abundance of all species compared. However, if we add six most abundant species excluded from the test (they jointly formed on average 54% of all pairs during 2000–2002 and 62% during 2009–2011, as judged from the 17-ha control part), then the share of c. 19 species estimated properly drops to the mere c. 10–15% of the community abundance. Any calculation of density values or of percentage share of species in the community from such data is not justified, unless proper species-specific correction indices are elaborated and applied.

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Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 293–294

First and second records of the American Wigeon Anas americana in Poland

The first observed individual of the American Wigeon, an adult male, was observed on 13.–14.04.2013 at a wild pool at Sitno in central Poland. The second male was seen and photographed on 22.04.2013 in Narew River valley near Łapy. Both records were accepted by the Polish Avifaunistic Commission.

Mariusz Blank, Teresa Blank, Grzegorz Grygoruk

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Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 295-296

Second record of the Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus in Poland

On 15.05.2012, a singing male of the Iberian Chiffchaff was observred in eastern part of Karkonosze Mountains near Kowary. The bird stayed there until 6.06.2012. A description of the bird is given and occurrence in Europe discussed. The first record for Poland was in June 2005. This observation has been accepted by the Polish Avifaunistic Commission.

Bożena Gramsz

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Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 297–298

Jerzy Desselberger (1931–2013)

Tadeusz Stawarczyk

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Ornis Polonica 2013, 54: 299-300

Mystery bird 73: Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus

Jan Lontkowski

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