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Swiss species recovery programme for birds

Recovery projects for national priority species

The Swiss species recovery programme for birds was launched in 2003 by BirdLife Switzerland, the Swiss Ornithological Institute and the Federal Office for the Environment BAFU. The aim is to go beyond habitat and area protection and implement measures for 36 selected bird species in order to improve the status of the populations. To this end, factors jeopardising populations are identified and support measures are developed and implemented with the help of various stakeholders.

Priority species for recovery projects are derived from the list of national priority bird species (National Prioritäre Vogelarten, new edition 2023), which in turn are based on the Red List of Swiss breeding birds (Rote Liste der Brutvögel der Schweiz, 2021 (in German)).

Domain Conservation
Unit Species Recovery
Topic Species Recovery
Habitat farmland, rocky terrain, wetlands, rivers & streams, semi-open farmland, alpine habitats, wasteland, settlements, forest, meadows and pastures
Project start 2003
Project status ongoing
Project management Stephanie Michler Keiser
Project region Switzerland


Project objectives

The Swiss species recovery programme for birds is principally dedicated to planning and implementing specific species recovery projects. To this end, a better understanding is gained of factors that jeopardise the existence of the species, new support measures are developed, existing measures are evaluated and the various stakeholders are provided with specialist support.

National action plans are underway for the following species: Western Capercaillie, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Common Hoopoe, White Stork, Common Sandpiper, Little Owl and Corncrake.

The aim of the programme is to improve the status of the populations of the 36 priority species.


Coordination of the nationwide promotion of priority species involves motivating, advising and informing key stakeholders (e.g. cantons). Implementation aids such as action plans, fact sheets and courses are used for this purpose. In addition, the possibilities and limitations of specific measures at local to regional level are demonstrated by means of example projects and backed up by means of success monitoring. Species-specific working groups are organised in order to enhance cooperation and knowledge sharing. Where knowledge gaps exist for efficient species recovery, research projects are carried out wherever possible.


Some species and groups of species cannot be sufficiently promoted by means of habitat and area protection alone but require additional specific measures to ensure their populations are able to survive. The Swiss species recovery programme for birds provides a framework for the effective implementation of measures by a wide range of stakeholders.


The Northern Lapwing, the Western Capercaillie, the Little Owl, the Common Tern and the White Stork are examples of species where populations have increased once again throughout Switzerland as a result of coordinated recovery efforts (see also However, sustainable species recovery usually requires measures to be continued even if they are successful.

In spite of everything, bird species in agricultural areas and natural watercourses in particular are still under considerable pressure. Recovery efforts have to be intensified in these areas.

Further information

The website provides information on:

  • the priority species for recovery projects
  • their situation and the support measures required
  • fundamental resources and information available in relation to these species.

Project partner(s)



Species concerned

Rock Ptarmigan
Alpine Swift
Western Capercaillie
Bearded Vulture
Tree Pipit
Black Grouse
Eurasian Jackdaw
Common Whitethroat
Great Reed-warbler
Common Kingfisher
Eurasian Skylark
Common Grasshopper-warbler
Little Ringed Plover
Common Tern
Common Sandpiper
Common Redstart
Corn Bunting
Grey-faced Woodpecker
Hazel Grouse
Northern Lapwing
Black-headed Gull
Common Swift
Northern House Martin
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Common Barn-owl
Little Owl
Common Kestrel
European Turtle-dove
Collared Sand Martin
Eurasian Eagle-owl
Wood Warbler
Eurasian Woodcock
White-backed Woodpecker
White Stork
Eurasian Wryneck
Common Hoopoe
European Nightjar
Eurasian Scops-owl
Little Grebe
Species Recovery link

Species Recovery

Wildlife conservation coordinates the development, improvement and dissemination of measures in favour of priority bird species that cannot be helped by habitat protection alone. Together with BirdLife Switzerland and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the department also coordinates the “Species Recovery for Swiss Birds” programme.

Learn more

Additional projects

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