Korner-Nievergelt, F., C. Pernollet, A. Schneider, H. Bachmann & L. Jenni (2016)

Bericht über die erste Feldsaison (2016) des Schneesperlingsprojekts.

Further information

Schweizerische Vogelwarte Sempach






The Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis is a specialist of the alpine zones and therefore potentially threat-ened by habitat loss due to global warming and landscape changes. The new project of the Swiss Ornithological Institute is one of at least 11 recently started projects in Snowfinches in Europe. The common aim of these research projects is the improvement of the knowledge of Snowfinch biology in order to provide the basics for the understanding of the expected impact of global change on the Snowfinch population. Here, we provide a list of open questions and delineate the research focus of the Snowfinch project of the Swiss Ornithological Institute.
Our project is a combination of a long-term demographic monitoring and a research project. We pre-sent the data collected during the first field season and discuss open questions and future plans.
We took pictures of 40 eggs from 10 nests and collected unhatched eggs. Data collection on egg sizes will proceed next year to increase sample size for the study of within- and between nest variance in egg size and shape and effects of environmental factors on egg sizes. We observed that the egg shell of Snowfinches is extremely thinn compared to other passerine species. Egg shell thickness should deserve further attention in future.
Using temperature sensors in artificial eggs, we could measure egg temperature every second minute during the incubation period of 7 nests. These measurements will be repeated next year to collect a higher sample size for the study of influence of environmental factors (temperature, food availability) on the breeding behaviour.
We observed the growth of 18 nestlings from 6 nests. These nestlings were measured every third day. In addition, we measured food availability and feeding rates. How nestling growth is correlated with feeding rates and temperature is currently analysed by Alexander Schneider for his Bachelor thesis. A key for aging nestlings is going to be done in addition.
The Snowfinch data within the databases of the Swiss Ornithological Institute have been scanned and relevant data extracted. These data will be analaysed during winter 2016/17 to assess the following questions: 1) Did the group size of the Snowfinch observations change over time? 2) Has the eleva-tional distribution of the Snowfinch increased during the last years? 3) How is the breeding phenology correlated with temperature and snow conditions?
Finally, we thank the people who supported the project.