Fieldwork completed

Atlas project

Little Bittern

Little Bittern
Photo: © Marcel Burkhardt

The distribution of birds is subject to constant change due to natural causes and increasing human activities. Especially the speed at which these changes caused by humans take place pose a problem to many species. This is shown in the two Swiss atlases of breeding birds, the fieldwork of which was carried out between 1972–1976 and 1993–1996. Not only has the landscape changed more quickly since the last atlas, but in some cases there has also been a marked change in the distribution of individual species as can be seen in the results of “Monitoring common breeding birds”. In recent times, the effects of climate change have also increased.

This is why it is necessary to make regular national surveys of breeding birds. These data also serve as a basis for a number of further studies such as monitoring threatened species (Red List) or to help identify Important Bird Areas (IBA).

The nationwide survey of the distribution of Swiss breeding birds is conducted once every 20 years and is recorded in an atlas of breeding birds. Between 2013 and 2016, new field surveys will be made in Switzerland to record the present distribution and density of all breeding birds in our country.

The new atlas of breeding birds will answer the following questions:

  • Where does the Water Pipit occur in the Jura?
  • Are there any European Nightjars outside the Valais and Ticino?
  • Where are the medium-sized and large colonies of the Common House Martin?
  • In which towns does the Common Wood Pigeon breed?
  • Have the centres of occurrence of the Fieldfare changed?
  • Where are the hotspots of red-listed species in Switzerland?
  • How large is the population of the Common Reed Bunting in Switzerland?
  • Which altitude range has the Ring Ouzel abandoned since the 1990s and which has it newly colonised?
  • Is the proportion of Black Redstarts breeding within towns and villages larger than the one in mountain areas?
White Stork

Thanks to a reintroduction programme, the White Stork is again breeding in Switzerland. In 1976 there was a population of only 40 pairs, from 1993–1996 there were already 160–170 pairs. The trend has recently remained stable with 289 pairs breeding in 2011. The reasons for this increase in population in many parts of Europe may be due to the use of new food sources, reduced hunting pressure and specific measures of protection.

Distribution 1972–1976

Distribution 1972–1976

Distribution 1993–1996

Distribution 1993–1996

Eurasian Hoopoe

At one time, the Eurasian Hoopoe was widely distributed in the Swiss lowlands. During the 1950s, the population was possibly about 1,000 pairs. Due to agricultural intensifica-tion and land consolidation, the Eurasian Hoopoe disappeared from many areas. Be-tween 1993 and 1996, the population was at least 110 pairs. At present, the Eurasian Hoopoe is recovering thanks to protection measures, among other things. Between 2007 and 2011 190 to 235 pairs were recorded.

Distribution 1950–1959

Distribution 1950–1959

Distribution 1993–1996

Distribution 1993–1996

Tufted Duck

The Tufted Duck has been breeding regularly in Switzerland only since 1969. Between 1972 and 1976, 10 to 21 broods were registered every year. Since then the Tufted Duck has been further expanding its range. Between 1993 and 1996 there were 100 to 150 broods, between 2007 and 2011 already 123 to 204 broods were recorded. The increase of the Tufted Duck in Switzerland is part of the general expansion of its range in Central Europe.

Distribution 1950–1959

Distribution 1950–1959

Distribution 1993–1996

Distribution 1993–1996

Tree Pipit

Until the 1970s, the Tree Pipit was a widespread breeding bird in Switzerland from the lowlands up to the treeline. In the 1980s, a steep decline set in especially due to agricul-tural intensification, whereby practically all the breeding sites in the lowlands were va-cated. Between 1993 and 1996 the distribution was basically restricted to altitudes be-tween 800 and 2000 m.

Distribution 1972–1976

Distribution 1972–1976

Distribution 1993–1996

Distribution 1993–1996