Resort & surroundings

The Giant Mountains, winter 2019

Grouse, The Giant Mountains Bird of the Year 2019

Spring is a time of courtship and reproduction in the animal kingdom. This is no different for the common grouse. They are one of the rarest species living in the Giant Mountains National Park – only 75 males live here. The time of their flow, when the grouse cockerels fight with each other for the hen, is just beginning. They can be disturbed not only by curious observers, but also by the supply of the ridge buildings.

The Giant Mountains National Park is aware of the uniqueness of this bird population and has been taking steps for many years to create a suitable environment for their survival. It is loosening overgrown young stands to allow grouse to nest and brood in them, planting pioneer tree species such as birch and cranesbill, and restoring the original water regime on previously meliorated sites.

In addition, they are trying to arrange with the operators of the facilities on the mountain ridges to direct the passes through the tokamaks to a time when the grouse will not be disturbed. Such sites are, for example, the area of Pančavská and Labská louka and the area between Výrovka and Klínovy Boudy. The KRNAP Administration has agreed with the operator of both Labská and Luční bouda, which passes through both locations during the supply, to direct the traffic to the time of day between 8 am and 5 pm, and tourists are not allowed to move around the summits of the mountains. The ban on entry for nature protection reasons applies from 15. 3. until 31. 5. 2022.

Unfortunately, the number of grouse is slightly decreasing. This is due to the loss of suitable habitats and the increase in the number of their natural enemies (wild boars, foxes), which eat the eggs and chicks of the grouse nesting on the ground. The third reason is excessive human disturbance. Contributing to this are mainly illegal winter activities, such as movement outside of designated hiking trails, or ski mountaineering and climbing in glacial karsts, where grouse spend a lot of time especially in winter, because the needles and buds of willows and cranes, an important part of their diet, often protrude above the snow cover. The Giant Mountains, together with the Jizera and Ore Mountains and the Šumava Mountains, are probably the last areas in the Czech Republic where experts believe that grouse have the prospect of maintaining long-term sustainable populations.

Will the Giant Mountain Grouse survive the year 2040?


The Giant Mountains and the neighbouring Jizera Mountains are one of the last two areas in our country with a relatively large grouse population. Nevertheless, the number of males has dropped to only 74 in the Giant Mountains and 30 in the Jizera Mountains according to the last census in 2017. The survival of the species in the whole Czech Republic depends on the populations in the Giant Mountains, Jizera and Ore Mountains! If nothing is done, the species will become extinct in the Giant Mountains around 2040. One of the characteristics of the grouse population is the number of males flowing on common flowing sites. The more birds flock together, the higher the chances that the best of them will mate with the females and their genetically high quality offspring will keep the population in a favourable state. And vice versa, a handicapped individual can also be used on a tokanishte with a single male.

What to do for the disappearing grouse? In the Jizera and Giant Mountains, 24 grouse “centres” have been created in the past four years, covering a total area of 86 hectares. The clearing of the forest has created open areas for completely new or already extinct tokamaks. In addition, at a “range” distance, so that at least the female grouse have a chance to fly from the Jizera Mountains to the Giant Mountains or in the opposite direction, or gradually “jump” from west to east of the mountains. Even the disturbance of grouse can be reduced to an acceptable level. However, the park cannot do without the responsible attitude of every resident and visitor to the mountains. Grouse are able to get used to the movement of people along familiar routes. But any deviation from them is a problem for the birds. In addition, most males spend their entire lives within one kilometre of the hatching site, while females on average move within 5 km and flying over 10 km is the exception.

Published studies indicate that for grouse, about 100 individuals is considered the survival limit of a viable population. Already 10 years ago, a genetic study indicated that grouse from the Jizera and Giant Mountains differ from each other “by a whisker”, as do grouse from the western, central and eastern Giant Mountains. It can be concluded that there is very little interbreeding between the Jizera and Krkonoše birds, even though they are only “over the hill”, more precisely over the Jizera valley and the Novosvětský Pass, just six kilometres as the crow flies. The key step to save the local grouse is to connect these sub-populations and create conditions for them so that the birds can meet again within the whole Krkonoše Mountains and between them and the Jizera Mountains!


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