Sempach, Switzerland
Sempach, Switzerland

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The eigth breeding records of the Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna and the Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator were noted and two families of the Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata were observed. For the first time since 1994 Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax was confirmed breeding. Purple Heron Ardea purpurea and Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus breeding records were above average. An invasion of Common Quails Coturnix coturnix was observed, the first since 2005. Numerous Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus were observed during the whole summer. An Osprey Pandion haliaetus and two Common Cranes Grus grus spent the summer here. Strong postnuptial migration of Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus, Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus and Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes was recorded. A dormitory of about 1 million individuals of Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla was found.


A fundamental goal of conservation biology is the establishment of knowledge to increase the probability that population declines can be halted. Population biology plays a central role in this endeavour. Population analyses allow to recognise the demographic mechanisms underlying population change and to assess the effects of different management actions on future population developments. These insights may result either in targeted conservation actions or in the formulation of new focal hypotheses about population change. A central element of every population analysis is a population model which describes the link between population size and the demographic rates (survival, recruitment, emigration, immigration). In this essay I illustrate how population analyses provide insights for the conservation of four species (Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops, Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo, Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus, Red Kite Milvus milvus). The first two case studies are retrospective, they identify demographic reasons for observed population change in the past. The second two case studies are prospective, they compare the effects of different management actions on the future development of the populations. Population analyses are not only central in conservation biology, they are equally important for setting sustainable harvest bags in exploited populations. The need to assess human impacts on wildlife will increase. Since an impact assessment of all actions needs to be performed at the level of populations, the demand for population biology is likely to increase as well.


A mild winter with little snow in the north but massive amounts of snow in southern Switzerland was followed by a mild und sunny spring. Summer was cool with high rainfall, autumn again mild. For the first time a pair of Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea nested in Switzerland. For the fifth time breeding was confirmed for Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca. A family of Garganey Anas querquedula was observed, for the first time since 2006. Northern Shoveler A. clypeata (one family) and Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna (one family) were confirmed breeding as well. Three to four families of Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus were observed in the border region of Switzerland and Austria. The Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans was breeding for the fourth time. The Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus was found at three new sites, and the Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus was probably breeding, for the first time since 2006. A pair of Little Egrets Egretta garzetta probably made a nesting attempt. Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina (244 broods), Common Eider Somateria mollissima (5 broods), Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (1504 broods), White Stork Ciconia ciconia (376 broods), Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus (9 broods) and European Bee-eater Merops apiaster (66 broods) reached their highest breeding numbers. With 10 breeding pairs Purple Heron Ardea purpurea reached the highest number since 1972. Similarly, the 68 singing males were the highest number for Corn Crake Crex crex since 2000, and the 49 territories the highest number for Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus since 1996. On the contrary, only 563 pairs of Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus were counted, the lowest number since the start of systematic surveys in 1984, and only three Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana territories were left. © 2015, ALA. All rights Reserved.


The Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina colonised Switzerland in the 20th century. In 1927 the first nest was found in the Swiss part of Lake Constance (Bodensee), ten years after the first breeding records on the German side. Until 1964, when the first brood was confirmed on Lake Zurich, breeding was restricted to Lake Constance. Until 1980 breeding records in Switzerland remained scarce but since then breeding has been confirmed every year. In the 1990s a rapid increase started, reaching 222 confirmed broods in 2011. The number of breeding pairs for this year was estimated at around 450. The increase happened in parallel to the massive increase in wintering numbers from a few hundred in the mid-1980s to a maximum of over 30 000 in 2009. Redcrested Pochards breed mainly on the large lakes of the Swiss plateau, with the highest numbers on sites where wintering birds concentrate. Apart from isolated records on Lac de Joux at 1000 m a.s.l., breeding is restricted to lowland areas (below 600 m). Lake Neuchâtel, leading the list of the most important wintering sites together with Lake Constance, holds around half of the Swiss breeding population. In the last decade, the species has increasingly spread to small waterbodies. Data collected by volunteers give an insight into the breeding biology, although no systematic sampling has taken place. The Red-crested Pochard has a long breeding season. Hatching dates were recorded between the end of April and beginning of September, with an overall peak in July. Records of clutches on Lake Neuchâtel, where Red-crested Pochards nest mainly on artificial islands, indicate a high degree of interspecific nest parasitism, in particular with Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, the most abundant breeding duck species in Switzerland. Mixed families were commonly recorded as well. In most cases these were led by females of other species, mostly Mallard (80% of 219 families from across Switzerland), followed by Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula (16%), Common Pochard A. ferina (3%) and Common Eider Somateria mollissima (1%). Only in seven cases were ducklings from other species led by a Redcrested Pochard female. In six of these cases the family contained ducklings of Tufted Duck, in one of Mallard.


The highlight of the year was the first breeding record of the Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus. The Canada Goose Branta canadensis also bred for the first time, the Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola for the 2nd time and the Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus for the 3rd time. Other rare breeding records were noted for the Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, the Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata and the Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax. The Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops bred outside the Alps for the first time since 1988, at two different locations. During summer, two Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus were seen in the Jura and one of them stayed there until February 2013: both date and location are remarkable. The migration intensity was exceptionally high during the autumn for many species such as Red Kites Milvus milvus, Common Buzzards Buteo buteo, Common Cranes Grus grus, Coal Tits Parus ater, Blue Tits P. caeruleus and Great Tits P. major.


The list of birds of Switzerland is updated periodically as the bird occurrences evolve over time and taxonomic research generates changes in the nomenclature. This publication provides a summary of all changes in the list of birds of Switzerland since its last release (Volet 2006) and its last update (Volet 2010). Until the end of December 2015, the Swiss list comprised 412 species in categories A-C and 15 in category D. Among the species of categories A-C, 289 are considered occurring regularly, 40 irregularly and 68 accidentally; 15 other species have not been seen in Switzerland since 1965. 223 species of categories A-C have been recorded breeding in Switzerland. 178 of them are regular breeders, 24 irregular breeders, 14 accidental breeders and 7 former breeders. © 2016, ALA. All rights reserved.


Muller C.,Schweizerische Vogelwarte
Ornithologische Beobachter | Year: 2016

After a mild winter spring temperatures in 2015 slightly higher than usual and north of the Alps precipitation was above average. Summer was dry and sunny and turned out to be the second warmest since the measurements began more than 150 years ago. The weather in autumn remained mild and rather dry. 2015 brought the first breeding record of Greenish Warbler Phylloscop-us trochiloides for Switzerland, with 6 young fledging. The second brood of Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus was recorded. A pair of Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea made a breeding attempt, for the second time in Switzerland, for the first time nestlings hatched. One family of Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, one family of Garganey Anas querquedula, two families of Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, one family of Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata and four families of Common Eider Somateria mollissima were found. Two families and a breeding attempt of Dotterel Charadrius morinellus were observed. Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti bred at two sites. The Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus colonized new areas. Corn Crake Crex crex (51 singing males), Red-spotted Bluethroat Luscinia s. svecica (10 territories) and Common Rose-finch Carpodacus erythrinus (with 52 territories the second highest number) had a good year. Breeding numbers of Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus (12 broods), Purple Heron Ardea purpurea (11 breeding records), Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus (181 breeding pairs) und Little Owl Athene noctua (126 territories) continued to increase slightly. One territory of River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis, one of Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon and one of Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis were found. © 2016, ALA. All rights reserved.


Volet B.,Schweizerische Vogelwarte
Ornithologische Beobachter | Year: 2011

The update of the status of all species recorded in Switzerland was based on the periods 2000-2009 and 1960-2009, except for the species of category D, whose status is no longer evaluated. Four species were added to the Swiss list in category A: the Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi, the Iberian Chiffchaff P. ibericus, the Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata and the Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia. The Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus was added to category D. Until the end of October 2010, the Swiss list comprises 401 species in categories A-C and 16 in category D, some species having been attributed to two categories. Out of the species of categories A-C, 286 are considered occurring regularly, 38 irregularly and 61 accidentally; 16 have not been seen in Switzerland since 1960. 217 species of categories A-C have been recorded breeding in Switzerland. 177 of them are regular breeders, 21 irregular breeders, 12 accidental breeders and 7 former breeders. The new Swiss list can be found on the website of the Swiss Ornithological Institute: www.vogelwarte.ch/id.


Collisions between Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos and aircraft are rare incidents but nevertheless they occur in the Alps with a certain regularity. Gliders have been involved in most of the 20 documented cases whereas hang gliders have been affected three times less; only one case each has been documented as regards paragliders, helicopters and small aircraft. Of the 20 cases of collisions documented in this paper, at least two thirds were attacks by eagles motivated by aggression, the other collisions were of incidental nature or carried out for unknown reasons. The attacks were directed at the wing or the cockpit of the aircraft. At least half of the collisions were lethal to the eagles. In more than half of the cases the collisions caused damages to the aircraft, however none of the incidents significantly affected the steering of the aircraft. Possible causes for the attacks on aircraft are discussed: The inborn disposi-tion of territorial raptors to defend their food resources makes them attack intruders of the same species within their territory. No clear relationship to the time of breeding was found. Endogenous factors (hormones), the occurrence of intruders (irritation factors) and the falling short of a critical distance are factors that can, in combination, cause Golden Eagles to react to aircraft by attacking them. Aggressively motivated undulating flight, which is typical for the Golden Eagle, often precedes attack. Pilots should be able to interpret these threatening signals and withdraw as quickly as possible from the proximity of the eagle. At least some collisions could be avoided in that way.


Jacot A.,Schweizerische Vogelwarte | Reers H.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Seewiesen) | Forstmeier W.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Seewiesen)
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology | Year: 2010

The recognition of food-provisioning parents is crucial for fledglings of many bird species. Vocalizations are the most commonly used cues in avian parent-offspring communication, and it has been shown in several species that fledglings respond specifically to their parents' contact calls. However, fledglings occasionally also react to unrelated adults. Such responses may reflect recognition errors or alternatively a strategy of fledglings to obtain food or other direct benefits from unrelated adult birds. In a playback experiment, we tested whether zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata fledglings perceive variation in adult call signatures to recognize their parents and whether the propensity to respond to unrelated individuals is related to the gender of adults and to signal properties of male and female calls. Male calls are learnt and show high intra-sexual variation, which may improve the accurate recognition of the father's individual signature. In contrast, calls of adult females are innate, show lower intra-sexual variation such that the mother's call is more likely to be confused with another female call. We demonstrate that fledglings are able to recognize their parents. In addition, fledglings reacted more strongly to unrelated females compared with unrelated males. Our findings suggest that responses to unrelated adults may reflect recognition errors and indicate the importance of variation in identity signals for individual recognition processes in parent-offspring communication. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

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