Swiss Breeding Bird Atlas

      Distribution and population trends of birds
      in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

      Birds face a changing world

      The state of birdlife reflects our relationship with nature and our landscapes. The atlas presents the current distribution, abundance and altitudinal distribution of all breeding birds in Switzerland and Liechtenstein with unprecedented precision. Most importantly, it highlights the profound changes that have taken place in the Swiss avifauna over the past 20 to 60 years. This comprehensive reference book provides an important foundation for the protection and conservation of native birds and their habitats.

      Available in German, French and Italian

      A look inside

      During four years, more than 2000 volunteers were out in the field documenting the bird populations of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Their effort has resulted in a unique overview of the distribution and current state of our breeding birds.

      species or
      subspecies accounts
      kilos of in-depth
      atlas maps
      focus topics

      «Thanks to the dedication of more than 2000 volunteer collaborators, a wealth of data was collected that describes the state of our native birdlife in detail.»

      Marc Chardonnens
      Director of the Federal Office for the Environment

      «For the next 20 years, the Swiss Breeding Bird Atlas 2013–2016 will be the standard work of reference when it comes to assessing the state of our native bird communities and how they are changing over time.»

      Prof. Dr. Lukas Jenni
      Chairman of the Institute Management
      and Scientific Director Ornithological Institute

      Key findings

      Overall, the number of species has remained constant since 1993–1996. But many breeding bird species have declining populations and are also experiencing range loss.

      Many long-distance migrants have lost ground. Insectivores in particular are in steady decline.

      Several birds of prey have made a longterm recovery. These popular, iconic birds are well protected by law.

      The effects of global warming are clearly visible and have caused several species to move to higher ground.

      Farmland birds have suffered the greatest losses. While the lowlands are most affected, pressure is increasing in the mountains as well.

      Several woodland species have increased in number. The growing forest area, nature-friendly forest management and more deadwood have given woodland birds a boost.

      Conservation action has become essential. Recovery measures have succeeded in reversing the trend for several threatened species.

      Special issue of «The State of Birds in Switzerland»

      The publication «The State of Birds in Switzerland»: Special Issue on the Breeding Bird Atlas 2013–2016” summarises the key findings of the new breeding bird atlas and takes stock of the developments of the past 20 years.

      Contents of the atlas

      Focus – exploring topics and trends relevant to several species Learn more

      Natural disasters give rise to biodiversity

      Forest covers about a third of the area of Switzerland, and therefore plays an important role in species conservation. For the past century, forest area…

      Herons and egrets make a comeback

      The 2013–2016 atlas not only documents the increase of the Grey Heron population, but also the recovery of the Purple Heron, the first brood of Great White…

      Many specialist species in open woodland

      Open woodland is characterised by gaps in the canopy that allow a lot of light to reach the ground. Many specialist species rely on open woodland as habitat,…

      Learn more
      Background - a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the atlas Learn more

      The Swiss breeding bird atlas in a nutshell (Explainervideo)

      In a nutshell - a short movie of the Swiss breeding bird atlas

      How was the swiss breeding bird atlas book made?

      A short video shows how the book was produced at the printing company Stämpfli AG and at the bindery Bubu AG.

      Learn more
      Methods - from data collection to final results Learn more

      The atlas project presented enormous challenges in terms of the organisation of fieldwork, the search for volunteers and the subsequent analysis of data. The approximately 200 species of breeding birds require different survey methods depending on their occurrence, abundance and biology. Methods for producing the maps are also varied.

      Learn more

      Tremendous support

      Countless individuals, organisations and institutions contributed to the success of the 2013–2016 breeding bird atlas in a number of ways. Special thanks goes to all field ornithologists who collected the data used in the production of the atlas.

      We estimate that volunteer observers spent a total of about 3.9 working years on fieldwork and travelled 46 438 km.

      more than
      volunteer collaborators
      kilometres covered
      during the territory
      mapping surveys
      bird observations
      observers who
      submitted at least
      1000 records

      «Overall, the results of the large bird census are sobering. This is due to the fact that a number of species had to leave their feathers untouched, especially birds from the agricultural area.»

      Peter Knaus
      Project manager and main author

      Order the book

      Swiss Breeding Bird Atlas 2013–2016

      Distribution and population trends of birds
      in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

      648 pages 24x32 cm
      Climate-neutral printing on FSC-certified paper
      produit en Suisse
      Produced in Switzerland
      Available in German, French and Italian

      CHF 88.00 

      Of the approximately 200 breeding bird species
      in Switzerland, more than half are currently threatened
      or considered near-threatened.

      Donate now › 


      Special thanks goes to the following donors for their generous support.