Whiskers named Bird of the Year 2023


The Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) has endured a dramatic decline in numbers in recent decades. Currently there should be only 950 to 1500 breeding pairs. 60 to 80 percent of bird species are said to have disappeared since 2004. That is why the meadow bird, which we used to see often, was put on “red” in the list of priority species for bird protection. They have now been named Bird of the Year 2023.

Winchats inhabit open landscapes and can be found both in the lowlands and in the mountains on meadows and ditches, small wastelands and ridges. They have an orange-brown chest, a black-brown head and a distinctive white stripe across their eyes and heavily striped markings on their backs. During the breeding season, they need a diverse herbaceous layer to forage and shrubs or stilts as perch. “These structures are gradually being destroyed or affected,” criticizes BirdLife’s Katharina Bergmüller.

The main cause of death for meadow birds is the intensive use of grassland. “Where in the past mowing only started when the elderberries were in bloom, today more intensive agriculture and dairy farming is aimed at maximum yield, depending on heavy fertilization and mowing as early and as often as possible.” “Our meadow birds are either just starting to build their nests or whether their young are migrating depending on the height. Early mowing leads to the death of mother birds that leave their nests at the last minute during breeding, or of young birds that are still have not flown out.”

“But the situation is not hopeless,” says Bergmüller. She advocates suspension of mowing until after the breeding season at the end of June and an eight-week break between individual mowings.

Source: Krone


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