Austrian breeding bird atlas entered its fifth year of data collection


Alpine lake in Austria (By Takopix Free Photo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)


The breeding bird season which is in front of us marks the fifth season of data collection for the Austrian Breeding Bird Atlas.

During the last 4 years (2013-2016), over 1 million records have been gathered which is a significant increase compared to the previous atlas (1981-1985) which gathered 340000 records during its 5 years of data collection.

The most challenging part of the atlas is performing the standardised counts in the Alps. These are done in smaller sampling units (600×600 meters), and despite the difficulties, we have managed to sample 10000 of these units.


Austrian Alps present the most challenging fieldwork data collection for the new breeding bird Atlas (User: Celsius at wikivoyage shared [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Compared to our 1980s atlas, some of the preliminary findings include a number of new breeding bird species: Black Swan (Cygnus atratus), Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus), Little egret (Egretta garzetta), Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis), Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida), Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola).

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Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) is a new breeding bird species in Austria (photo by Tomáš Bělka)


Additionally, some species seem to successfully have re-colonised Austria after extinction: Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) through reintroduction, Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), and Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) partly through reintroduction.

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White-tailed Eagle, a species which recolonised its distribution in Austria (photo by Tomáš Bělka)


However, in comparison to the 1980s atlas some species are not breeding any more in Austria. From preliminary data, these appear to be: Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena), Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator), Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni).

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Lesser kestrel, a species that no longer breeds in Austria (photo by Tomáš Bělka)


Range expansions have been noted in Black stork (Ciconia nigra), Goosander (Mergus merganser), Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), and Raven (Corvus corax).

On the other hand, range contractions have been noted primarily in farmland species such as Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix), Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Skylark (Alauda arvensis), and Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), but probably also in Ring ouzel (Turdus torquatus).

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Grey partridge, a species whose range is contracting in Austria (photo by Tomáš Bělka)


3.4.2017, Norbert Teufelbauer, EBBA2 coordinator in Austria