Nightjar

    In the Valais, the endangered nightjar is promoted by thinning out pine forests.

    Aims

    The crepuscular nightjar inhabits open and sparse woodlands in dry and sunny areas. The southern slopes of the Valais between Martigny and Brig harbour the largest share of the Swiss population. This species has declined drastically in Switzerland over the last years.

    Both the currently populated habitat and the potential habitat of the nightjar are to be improved with tailored forestry measures. Furthermore, the agencies' support has to be won for an integrative recovery strategy, which will contribute to a lasting improvement of the situation for the nightjar.

    Approach

    In the remaining downy oak and pine forests, clearings are created which can serve as breeding sites for the ground-breeding nightjar. These clearings also promote thermophilic insects and thus the basic food source for nightjars, which mainly hunt in open forests.
    Over the past 15 years, clearings have been made in more than 25 forest stands to improve habitat conditions for the nightjar. The ongoing population monitoring by ornithologists of the Valais branch office of the Swiss Ornithological Institute serves as a control of success of these measures.

    Significance

    In Switzerland, the nightjar is classified as critically endangered on the Red List. Small populations persist in only a few regions. It may be possible to save the Valais population, the largest of the remaining populations, with the suggested measures and, in a later step, to extend such measures to remnant populations in other parts of the country. Therefore, this programme is of great importance for the national recovery of the nightjar. Orchids and butterflies are likely to also benefit from the implemented forestry measures.

    Project management

    Jean-Nicolas Pradervand

    Partners

    Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)
    Kanton Wallis, Dienststelle für Wald und Landschaft
    Swiss Association for the Protection of Birds SVS/BirdLife Switzerland
    Conservation Biology, University of Bern

    Publications