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Inderwildi E.,Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS BirdLife Schweiz | Mulle W.,Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS BirdLife Schweiz
Ornithologische Beobachter | Year: 2015

The Corncrake Crex crex used to be a widespread breeding bird in Switzerland. However, at the end of the 19th century and in particular in the first half of the 20th century the population declined markedly. In the 1980s and the early 1990s the species was still recorded in Switzerland but was no longer breeding regularly. In 1996, SVS/BirdLife Switzerland started a species recovery project which monitors the population and aims at improving the conditions for successful breeding. Since 1996, breeding has been confirmed in almost every year, with a total of 50 breeding records over the 18 years until 2013. Population size, measured as the number of calling males, fluctuated between 12 and 87. Corncrakes occurred sporadically across the whole country but most stationary birds and confirmed broods were found in the canton of Grisons. In earlier times Corncrakes were mostly breeding in the lowland areas of the Swiss Plateau, whereas today most breeding records come from mountainous regions. Breeding phenology has changed as well with many birds arriving in Switzerland only in June. Earlier records indicate that Corncrakes used to arrive at the end of April or in May, as is still common in other countries with larger populations. The changes in temporal and spatial occurrence reflect the changes in agricultural land use. In lowland areas meadows are too dense and are mowed far too early to offer a suitable habitat for Corncrakes when they arrive from their winter quarters in Africa. At higher altitude meadows reach an optimal height only later in the season. Corncrakes arriving in June or July are likely to arrive from other regions after having lost their broods due to mowing or after having successfully completed their first brood. Without the contracts offered as part of the BirdLife project to allow compensating farmers for late mowing Corncrakes would not have the possibility to breed successfully in Switzerland. A continuation of the species recovery project is essential to prevent extinction of this critically endangered species. © 2015, Der Ornithologische Beobachter. All Rights Reserved.

Grendelmeier A.,Swiss Ornithological Institute | Grendelmeier A.,University of Bern | Arlettaz R.,University of Bern | Gerber M.,Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS BirdLife Schweiz | Pasinelli G.,Swiss Ornithological Institute
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Identifying factors influencing a species' ecological niche and demography is a prerequisite for species conservation. However, our understanding of the interplay between demographic rates and biotic/abiotic factors is still poor for most species of conservation concern. We evaluated relevance of eight hypotheses relating to timing of breeding, temporal nest exposure, nest concealment, topography, tree structure, predation risk and disturbance, density dependence and weather for explaining variation in reproductive performance of the declining wood warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix in northern Switzerland. Reproductive performance was monitored with cameras at 136 nests from 2010 to 2012 and was associated to temporal exposure, timing of breeding and concealment of nests. Daily nest survival was positively related to the number of grass and sedge tussocks, nest concealment and nest age. Clutch size and number of fledglings decreased, the later in the season a nest was initiated. Nest survival over an average nesting period of 31 days was 46.9 ± 0.07% (mean ± SE), daily nest survival rate was 0.976 ± 0.002. As for many ground-breeding birds, nest predation was the principal cause of nest failure, accounting for 79% of all nest losses. Conservation measures should aim at increasing the area of relatively homogenous forest stands featuring suitable habitats characterized by abundant and accessible grass and sedge tussocks. In managed forests, such conditions can be found in stands of middle age (i.e. pole wood) with little to no shrub layer. © 2015 Grendelmeier et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Martinez N.,Basellandschaftlicher Naturund Vogelschutzverband BNV | Martinez N.,Hintermann and Weber AG | Luthi T.,Vogelschutzverband des Kantons Solothurn VVS | Muller W.,Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS BirdLife Schweiz | And 7 more authors.
Ornithologische Beobachter | Year: 2013

The Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius is one of 50 priority species for species recovery programmes in Switzerland and its Red List status is considered as Near Threatened. Nevertheless, knowledge of the exact distribution and accurate population size in several cantons containing strongholds of the species are inadequate or outdated. The poor quality of the data is mainly due to the cryptic life of the Middle Spotted Woodpecker. Thus, it can only be recorded reliably with species-specific survey methods. Population surveys with such methods were previously missing from the cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt and Solothurn, although these cantons are known to be important distribution centres for the species. For these reasons, a species-specific survey was conducted in 2012 to assess population size and distribution of the Middle Spotted Woodpecker in potential habitats in these cantons. Simultaneously, the same method was applied in adjacent regions of the canton of Bern. Overall, we found 415 territories, and we estimated total population size for the four cantons at 455 to 610 breeding pairs. This corresponds to a fivefold increase compared to older data. The comparison with existing data shows that this difference is partly due to methodological differences between the surveys. However, part of the observed increase is also due to a real population increase and an associated range expansion. Due to the large and increasing population, the Middle Spotted Woodpecker is barely threatened in northwestern Switzerland for the moment. However, since oaks of medium ages classes are rare in many forests because oak regeneration was neglected in the 20th century, specific measures for the Middle Spotted Woodpecker should remain an important component of forest management.

Aye R.,Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS BirdLife Schweiz | Bernardi E.,University of Lausanne | Christen W.,Langendorfstrasse 42 | Horch P.,Schweizerische Vogelwarte | And 12 more authors.
Ornithologische Beobachter | Year: 2013

The Corn Bunting is classified as Vulnerable according to the Swiss Red List and a priority species for recovery programmes. Its population in Switzerland has been estimated at 400 to 600 pairs in the years 1993-1996. The objective of the present study was to establish an updated population estimate for the period 2009-2011 and to identify the core areas for the conservation of the species. We based our population estimate on monitoring projects existing in four areas with corn bunting populations and for the rest of Switzerland on casual observations collected by the Swiss Ornithological Institute. This procedure resulted in an estimate of 93 to 103 territories on average for the years 2009-2011. The species has disappeared from many areas and a decline of about 80 % since the mid-1990s has to be assumed. Species recovery should therefore be of high priority in the remaining populations and in areas with a high potential. The current core areas of the species are the Champagne genevoise, the Grosses Moos, the Klettgau and the region from Lake Neuchâtel to Lake Geneva.

Keller V.,Schweizerische Vogelwarte | Aye R.,Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS BirdLife Schweiz | Muller W.,Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS BirdLife Schweiz | Spaar R.,Schweizerische Vogelwarte | Zbinden N.,Schweizerische Vogelwarte
Ornithologische Beobachter | Year: 2011

Based on the revised national Red List of threatened birds the lists of species of national conservation concern and of priority species for specific recovery programmes were revised, following the concepts published in 2001 and 2002. 118 out of the 399 bird species recorded in Switzerland by the end of 2009 were classified as species of national conservation concern as they are threatened and/or have internationally important populations in Switzerland. The list contains 107 breeding and 7 wintering species, and 4 species that were classified both as breeding and wintering species. In the next step the need to take conservation action was determined for each of the 118 species of national conservation concern. For 23 species no immediate action has to be taken as their populations are considered secure. For another 45 non-specific habitat management or site protection should provide adequate protection. For 50 species more targeted efforts will be needed to enhance their populations. These are the priority species for the Swiss species recovery programme for birds coordinated by SVS/BirdLife Switzerland and the Swiss Ornithological Institute with support by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). A comparison with the lists established ten years ago shows that the situation for birds has not improved. The total number of species of national conservation concern has hardly changed (118 vs 120 in 2001). 15 species were removed from the list. 10 widespread breeding species plus the Common Goldeneye as a visitor no longer met the criteria for international responsibility due to higher estimates of the European populations, 2 relatively recent colonisers (Yellowlegged Gull and Rook) were no longer considered as threatened in Switzerland because their populations have continued to increase. On the other hand, 13 species were added to the list. Six breeding species (Little Grebe, European Turtle Dove, Common House Martin, Garden Warbler, Linnet and Common Reed Bunting) were included as they were newly classified as threatened, the Black-necked Grebe because its increasing wintering population met the criteria for international importance. Slight changes in the criteria were responsible for the inclusion of 7 and the removal of 2 species. Six species were removed from the list of priority species for recovery programmes as their populations have increased or remained stable despite the lack of specific measures in the last ten years. On the other hand 6 species had to be added to the list.

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