Weisshaupt, N., R. Arlettaz, T. S. Reichlin, A. Tagmann-Ioset & M. Schaub (2011)

Habitat selection by foraging Wrynecks Jynx torquilla during the breeding season: identifying the optimal habitat profile.

Further information

Bird Study 58: 111–119



Capsule Large-scale intensification of agricultural management during the past 50 years has resulted in a reduction of invertebrate abundance and higher and denser ground vegetation. Food availability for insectivorous birds foraging on the ground has been negatively affected, but the interactions between birds and their food availability are complex and often species-specific. Populations of Wrynecks Jynx torquilla are declining all over Europe, possibly because of reduced accessibility to their main prey, ground-dwelling ants, due to higher and denser ground vegetation. However, it is not clear which ground vegetation structures are tolerated by foraging Wrynecks and which habitats are preferred.
Aims To identify the optimal ground vegetation structure and the main habitat types in which Wrynecks search for food.
Method We radiotracked seven Wrynecks in high-intensity farmland in Switzerland to study foraging habitat use during the reproduction season. Several habitat variables were mapped at each foraging location and compared with locations selected randomly within individual home ranges.
Results Wrynecks preferentially foraged at places with >=50% bare ground. Vegetation height was not important. Older fruit tree plantations and fallow land were the preferred foraging habitats.
Conclusion Conservation measures should concentrate on preserving semi-open agricultural landscape matrices with loose ground vegetation cover to provide suitable foraging conditions. This can be achieved even in intensively managed farmland as illustrated in this study.