We contribute to research on phenological studies and studies which are related to the biosphere of different bird species. The studies are done in cooperation with scientists and students. Below, you will find a link to finished and current projects.


Current projects

Reed Warbler Project
Reed Warbler Project
Weight comparison on recapture in migratory birds
Weight comparison on recapture in migratory birds
Water Pipit Project
Water Pipit Project


New study published!

Stable or changed? Migratory numbers in three rare breeding bird species from Luxembourg

Stable or changed? Migratory numbers in three rare breeding bird species from Luxembourg
by Charel Klein and Merit Finia Pokriefke
Stable or changed_Migratory numbers in t
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 594.8 KB


Many bird species have experienced population declines in recent years and are forced to deal with climate change effects, causing some species to adjust their migratory patterns. While numerous studies have addressed this issue, research from Luxembourg is currently still lacking. Therefore, this study investigated how the migratory numbers of three rare breeding bird species have changed over a time period of 10 years. For this purpose, the ringing data of the two largest bird ringing stations in Luxemburg were analysed. The results showed over time an overall increase in migratory numbers for Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica) due to increasing numbers in fall that more than compensated the decrease in spring. There were no significant changes in migratory numbers for Sedge Warblers (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) and Whinchats (Saxicola rubetra). These differing results underline the importance of migratory bird research and highlight the importance of stopover site conservation.

New study online!

Abstract. Standardized bird monitoring schemes in wetlands are critical tools for governments and conservation bodies to optimize habitat management and guide conservation measures for protected species. Through the standardized establishment of a baseline, changes in abundance or diversity of local bird populations may be detected. During the years 2017-2019, data on the breeding bird community within a large wetland area called “Schlammwiss-Brill” in eastern Luxembourg were collected using the standardized territory mapping method. The 75 hectare study area constitutes the center piece of a Special Protection Area of the Birds Directive as well as national nature reserve. With 18 in site visits per breeding season between mid-April and the beginning of July, a total of 4,993 observations of 94 species were assessed. Using a species-specific evaluation approach, a breeding community of 50 different bird species with fluctuating population sizes between 160 and 332 territories were estimated. Red List and specialist wetland species include reed buntings Emberiza schoeniclus (18-34 territories), three acrocephalid warbler species: reed Acrocephalus scirpaceus (19-25 territories), sedge A. schoenobaenus (0-1 territories) and marsh warblers A. palustris (7-23 territories), common cuckoos Cuculus canorus (0-4 territories), water rails Rallus aquaticus (0-3 territories) as well as little grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis (0-1 territories). Produced distribution maps of selected indicator species serve as visual display of habitat conditions. Furthermore, the suitability of the chosen method as well as the quantitative and qualitative results are discussed. Concluding recommended habitat management practices may increase the area’s suitability for specialist wetland bird species inhabiting reed marshes as well as wet grasslands.

Pilotstudie für ein Brutvogelmonitoring in den Feuchtgebieten „Schlammwiss-Brill“ im oberen Syrtal, Luxemburg 2017-2019 – Ergebnisse der Brutrevierkartierung
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 9.9 MB

Published online 27 April 2021 (ISSN 2716-750X).



Lettre d’information du programme PUPIPO*

La Mouch-Plate n°7
Le programme de science participative dédié à l’étude des Diptères pupipares hématophages parasites des oiseaux, des chauves-souris et autres mammifères.
La Mouche-Plate n° 7.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 2.2 MB

Regional Exchange in Bird Protection

Some months ago, several members of the birdringing station Schlammwiss got a glimpse into a very interesting and remarkable voluntary-led conservation project just around the border in the middle of French Lorraine’s crop fields.


Here, the conservation association CSFL (Centre de Sauvegarde de la Faune Lorraine) is leading a monitoring and nest protection scheme for Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus) breeding in arable land. As many ground-breeding bird species, especially Montagu’s harriers breeding in arable land within high crops, risk having their nests and offsprings being mown or harvested.


In short terms protecting this species means monitoring the breeding population, pinpointing nests, communicating with farmers and installing protective measures such as nest cages. Even working with extremely rare and endangered species such as Montagu’s harriers, volunteers of the project were keen and fully convinced to inform outsiders about the very delicate situation and organize field excursions to existing nests. Of course without comprimising the breeding population. We participated in nest controls as well as ringing activities of young harriers and benefited greatly from the exchange.


We’d like to take the opportunity to thank the according team of CSFL for the exchange.

And keep up with this very important and immense work!


Autor: Max Steinmetz



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Foreign birds captured in 2018

Note that before posting all this information everything has been reporteted to our birdringing central in Brussel, Belgium!

PUPIPO: La mouche-plate N°4

Le programme de sciences participatives dédié à l’étude des Ornithomyinés (Diptera, Hippoboscidae), pupipares hématophages, parasites des oiseaux, et aux Nycteribiidés, parasites des chauves-souris.


The station Schlammwiss is participating since 5 years!


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 Research project on challenges at the nexus of water, soil and nature in Luxembourg and in the Syr and Upper Sûre valleys


Water bodies and landscapes in Luxembourg face mounting pressures. In the framework of the EU water framework directive and Natura 2000 Luxembourg has committed to improving the status of water bodies and biodiversity. The need for action is great; implementation, however, lags behind.


The researchers from the NEXUS FUTURES team investigate ecological challenges in their local contexts, their links with wider societal factors and from the perspectives of diverse stakeholders, in order to develop new governance approaches for sustainability. As a pioneering example of transformative research in Luxemburg, it addresses the following overarching questions: What barriers do actors face in everyday lives and in their cooperation?  Which opportunities for a sustainable engagement with water and land do they see and seize? Which roles do developments in society, policies, agriculture, economy and technology play?




Kristina Hondrila, doctoral researcher in social sciences, works closely with the river partnership Syr (Fondation Hëllef fir d´Natur) and the river contract Upper Sûre (Nature Park Upper Sûre). Water quality, drinking water protection (Upper Sûre) and river restoration (Syr) have emerged as central themes from stakeholder workshops and the numerous interviews she has conducted with local and national actors.


In the Syr valley, she focuses on areas between Munsbach and Betzdorf, particularly Schlammwiss-Brill, where she and the student assistant Max Mattern went on two site visits guided by Stephan Müllenborn & Alexandra Arendt and Jim Schmitz (natur & ëmwelt, Fondation HfN). Pressures here come from agriculture, wastewater, transport (airport, trains, highway), business and residential areas. What will the fact that Schlammwiss-Brill has recently become a national nature reserve as part of Natura 2000 change? What lessons have been learned from the failed year-round pasture project of Mensder Brill? Will more river sections be restored?   




Her case studies will offer insights into barriers, tensions, contradictions and uncertainties that shape practice and policy-making at the nexus of water, nature, land and the economy (to be finalised by beginning 2020). Moreover, she will highlight various factors and approaches that facilitate cooperation and sustainability. She also draws on 15 years of professional experience with EU projects.




Furthermore, the NEXUS FUTURES team collaboratively develops a scenario set for Luxembourg (Dr. Ariane König, project director) and citizen science tools (Karl Pickar). The project is financed by the Environment Ministry and the University of Luxembourg.



Forschungsprojekt zu Herausforderungen im Umgang mit Wasser, Boden und Natur in Luxemburg und an Syr und Obersauer


Gewässer und Landschaften sind einem zunehmenden Druck ausgeliefert. Im Rahmen der EU-Wasserrahmenrichtlinie und von Natura 2000 hat sich Luxemburg verpflichtet, den Zustand der Gewässer und die Artenvielfalt zu verbessern. Der Handlungsbedarf ist groß, doch es hapert oft an der Umsetzung.


Die Forscher vom NEXUS FUTURES-Team untersuchen ökologische Herausforderungen in ihren lokalen Kontexten, gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhängen und aus Sicht unterschiedlicher Akteure, um neue Governance-Ansätze für Nachhaltigkeit zu entwickeln. Übergreifende Fragen dieses ersten Beispiels transformativer Wissenschaft in Luxemburg sind: Welchen Hürden begegnen Akteure in ihrem Alltag und ihrer Zusammenarbeit? Welche Möglichkeiten nutzen und sehen sie für einen nachhaltigen Umgang mit Wasser und Land? Welche Rolle spielen Entwicklungen in Gesellschaft, Politik, (Land-)Wirtschaft und Technologie?


Kristina Hondrila, Promovendin der Sozialwissenschaften, arbeitet eng mit der Flusspartnerschaft Syr (Fondation Hëllef fir d´Natur) und dem Gewässervertrag Obersauer (Naturpark Obersauer) zusammen. Aus Stakeholder-Workshops und einer Vielzahl von Gesprächen mit lokalen und nationalen Akteuren haben sich Wasserqualität, Trinkwasserschutz (Obersauer) und Renaturierungen (Syr) als zentrale Themen herauskristallisiert.


Im Syrtal liegt der Schwerpunkt auf Gebiete zwischen Munsbach und Betzdorf, insbesondere Schlammwiss-Brill. Geführt von Stephan Müllenborn & Alexandra Arendt und Jim Schmitz (natur & ëmwelt, Fondation HfN) haben die Forscherin und der studentische Assistent Max Mattern sich einen umfangreichen Überblick über das Gebiet verschaffen können. Der Druck kommt hier von Landwirtschaft, Abwasser, Verkehr (Flughafen, Zügen, Autobahn), Gewerbe- und Wohngebieten. Was wird die Tatsache, dass Schlammwiss-Brill vor Kurzem nationales Naturschutzgebiet als Teil von Natura 2000 wurde, ändern? Welche Lehren sind aus dem gescheiterten Ganzjahresbeweidungsprojekt vom Mensder Brill gezogen worden? Werden weitere Flussabschnitte renaturiert?


Die Fallstudien (die bis Anfang 2020 fertig gestellt werden) versprechen Erkenntnisse darüber, welche Hürden, Spannungen, Widersprüche und Ungewissheiten Praxis und Politik an den Schnittstellen zwischen Wasser, Natur, Land und Wirtschaft prägen. Darüber hinaus wird gezeigt, welche Faktoren und Ansätze Zusammenarbeit und Nachhaltigkeit in den Flussgebieten fördern können. Sie greift hierbei auch auf 15 Jahre Berufserfahrung mit EU-Projekten zurück.   

Außerdem werden im NEXUS-Projekt ein Szenarien-Set für Luxemburg (Dr. Ariane König, Projektleiterin) und Citizen Science-Tools (Karl Pickar) partizipativ entwickelt. Das Projekt wird durch das Umweltministerium und die Universität Luxemburg finanziert.

New study: Weight comparison on recapture in migratory birds

My name is Merit Finia Pokriefke and I am studying Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management in my master’s programme at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna.


During the last years, the birdringers of the nature reserve Schlammwiss could observe, that some of the migrating birds are staying longer in the reserve than others and it seems that they are gaining weight. Over one month, in the course of my internship, I will investigate the weight gain of recaptured birds during their stay in the area. Considering that fat is the main energy resource for migrating birds (Odum et al., 1961) a weight gain before migration is essential (Newton, 2008).


The main research questions are:

  1. How long does a bird stay in the area of the Schlammwiss?
  2. How does the body weight of a bird change over time?

The collected data could show how important wetlands, such as the Schlammwiss, are for birds during their migration (Mitsch & Gosselink, 2000).






Two articles about the water pipit project - published by REGULUS

Zusammenfassung der Bergpieperberingung (Anthus spinoletta) in Luxemburg in den letzten 18 Jahren
in German:
Zusammenfassung der Bergpieperberingung
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 675.2 KB
Überprüfung der morphologischen Unterschiede zur Geschlechterbestimmung beim Bergpieper
in German:
Überprüfung der morphologischen Untersch
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 195.0 KB

The link for more interesting articles published in REGULUS: https://www.luxnatur.lu/lnvlwb.htm

Biodiversitäts-Wochende in Feulen – ein Tag mit dem „Musée nationale de l’histoire naturelle“ (German)

Vorab ein großes Dankeschön an die Organisatoren des luxemburgischen Nationalmuseums für Naturgeschichte, die für eine sehr interessante und lehrreiche Veranstaltung gesorgt und uns die Teilnahme ermöglicht haben.

Abbildung 1: Route einschließlich eingetragener Beobachtungs Punkte
Abbildung 1: Route einschließlich eingetragener Beobachtungs Punkte

Begonnen wurde das Biodiversitätswochenende am Samstag, den 09.06.2018, um 9:00 Uhr mit einer Einführungsveranstaltung in Oberfeuelen. Nach Erläuterung der zu verwendenden Datenbank „iNaturalist“ konnten erste interessante Gespräche bei koffeinhaltiger Stärkung und Croissants - gestellt von den Organisatoren - zu Stande kommen. Schließlich machten sich Botaniker, Entomologen, Mykologen und viele weitere Fach-Experten auf den Weg, um Fauna und Flora der Gemeinde zu erfassen und diese einschließlich der Standort-Koordinaten in der „iNaturalist“ Datenbank zu registrieren.


Aus dem ornithologischen Bereich leisteten vier Helfer des Beringungs-Teams der „Schlammwiss“ in Uebersyren ihren Beitrag zur Datenerfassung. Gewählt wurde eine etwa 8,5 km lange Route, die verschiedene Wald-, Offenland- und urbane Flächen enthielt und somit ein breiteres Artenspektrum abdecken konnte.


Insgesamt wurden 49 verschiedene Arten identifiziert, die wie in Abbildung 1 zu sehen, 183 Beobachtungspunkte umfassen. In der Ortschaft war der Haussperling (Passer domesticus) mit Abstand am häufigsten anzutreffen, gefolgt von Rauchschwalben (Hirundo rustica). Darüber hinaus konnte ebenfalls ein Feldsperling (Passer montanus) entdeckt werden. Etwas außergewöhnlicher war der Fund eins Gebirgsstelzen-Pärchens (Motacilla cinerea).

 Von links nach rechts: Max Steinmetz, Hannah Kruft, Mike Müller, Katja Bredimus
Von links nach rechts: Max Steinmetz, Hannah Kruft, Mike Müller, Katja Bredimus

Zwischen Feldern und Äckern konnten Feldlerchen (Alauda arvensis) und verschiedene Greifvögel beobachtet werden (Tabelle 1). Des Weiteren konnte ein aufsitzender Neuntöter (Lanius collurio) aus der Familie der Würger nachgewiesen werden (siehe Abbildung 3).


In den Waldgebieten dominierten die Gesänge männlicher Buchfinke (Fringilla coelebs), dicht gefolgt von Mönchsgrasmücken (Syvia tricapilla). Darüber hinaus wurden fünf Baumpieper (Anthus trivialis) beobachtet und / oder durch ihren Gang in de Gebiete festgestellt (siehe Abbildung 4). Weitere klassische nachgewiesene Arten von Waldgesellschaften waren neben Eichelhähern (Garullus glandarius) außerdem Buntspechte (Dendrocops major), Kernbeißer (Cocothraustes cocothraustes) und Tannenmeisen (Parus ater). Außergewöhnlicher waren die Rufe zweier Turteltauben (Streptopelia turtur).


Gegen 18:00 Uhr trafen sich wieder alle Teilnehmer in Oberfeulen und begannen sich über ihre Beobachtungen auszutauschen. So konnten zusätzlich beobachtete Arten anderer Fachbereiche anhand von Fotos nachbestimmt werden (Abbildung 5). Für die Teilnehmer der Schlammwiss endete aus zeitlichen Gründen schließlich der Biodiversitäts-Tag, während die Organisatoren und anderen Teilnehmer sich um ein gemütliches Beisammensein mit gegrilltem Abendessen sorgten.


Autor: Mike Müller

Recapitulation of the waterpipit project 2017/18

Grafic 1

This is a recapitulation of the waterpipit project this winter 2017/18. You can find more information about the project here.


In total, we caught 115 Anthus spinoletta this winter . This is the second highest number of this species capured at the birdringingstation "Schlammwiss" since 2000. The highest number was with 117 captures in 2015/16.


Grafic above: About 72,2% of the birds this winter were captured for the first time (E) and 15,7% are controlled birds that were ringed the years before (K). Furthermore, we recaptured 14 of those birds again this winter (W).


Grafic right: The majority of controlled birds (K) were ringed last winter 2016/17 and 2015/16. Furthermore, one individual was ringed 2013/14 and one 2012/13. This bird is older than five years.


In summary, we have spent about 12 hours ringing, plus several hours of working on the site.


Brutmonintoring 2017

Hannah K., one of the volunteers of the birdringingstation Schlammwiss and student at the Universität Trier, has recapitulated the first results of our breeding monitoring. The document (in German) summarizes the breeding year of 2017 and is available below by clicking on the documents.


We say thank you!

Brutvogelmonitoring 2017 (German)
by Hannah K.
Brutvogelmonitoring 2017.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 7.0 MB

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COL News

The new report about birdringing in Luxembourg (in german) from COL is online!


Interesting general information, recaptures from other countries and a total list of all the birds ringed.


COL-News about bird ringing in Luxembourg 2015
COL-News 5 2016.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 573.4 KB
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Update Waterpipits

We started the first with ringing activity this year. Our trainees had enough time to learn more about the identification of birds and to improve their skills. 


Furthermore we started with the first ringing activity for our waterpipit project.

In total we ringed 18 birds (all males). 

  • 8 new
  • 8 controll from 2012-2015

Unfortunately we found no GPS.

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Hoopoe project at Kaiserstuhl / Germany


One of many vineyardhuts at Kaiserstuhl which the hoopoe use to breed
One of many vineyardhuts at Kaiserstuhl which the hoopoe use to breed

The Hoopoe (Upupa epops) breeding habitat was in good condition before forestry management started in Central Europe.

The Hoopoe had ideal conditions to breed  with orchards, meadows, wooded vineyards and open forests. The main distribution of this bird was from the south to the east of Europe.


With the beginning of  forestation of nutrient-poor soil in the 19th century, many biotopes disappeared. It declined in the 20th century with the growing livestock farming and the draining of meadows. Furthermore, the meadows became bigger because farmers started to use mineral fertilizer and liquid manure to fertilise the new fields. Fast growing grass needed to get mowed fast and this activity destroyed the foraging grounds of Hoopoes. Also, the use of insecticides in the fields, polluted the soil  Eventually the insects that Hoopoes feed on and fed the chicks on created abnormalities in the eggs and health of the birds, this happened mainly in the 1960's.


Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) using the nest boxes around to breed
Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) using the nest boxes around to breed

Not only the insecticides where having negative effects on Hoopoe populations, but also the breeding grounds of the Hoopoe was changing. The hoopoe is a cavity breeder and needs holes in big trees and in walls. Old fruit trees and big thick willows which are good breeding places for this bird were removed from the landscape. The destruction of orchards and the change in which fruit trees were managed from low-stem trees to high-stem trees left no cavities in trees where Hoopoe can breed.

Only  few pairs of Hoopoe survived in Rheinland-Pfalz till the 1980's. All of them used holes in walls to breed instead of trees. Although more than 100 pairs of Green woodpeckers (Picus vidris) were drilling nesting holes in trees still the Hoopoes were not utilising these cavities.


Hoopoe eggs in the woodbox
Hoopoe eggs in the woodbox

Due to a very successful Hoopoe protection project in Rheinland-Pfalz, Christian Stange started with NABU and BUND to build wood boxes on trees at Kaiserstuhl. However, the competition for the Hoopoe was tough with other cavity breeders like starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), great tits (Parus major), tree sparrows (Passer montanus), hornets (Vespa), wesps (Vespinae) and bees (Apiformes) were also using these wooden nest boxes.


In 1986 the team started to build the wooden nestboxes inside cabins in vineyards. The team had a huge success! In 1980 they had the first brood of Hoopoes. They started to create a symmetric net system of 140 nest boxes on 41,6km2   vineyards in Kaiserstuhl. (+60 breeding boxes between Tuniberg and the Black Forest). Next to the breeding cabins they installed other small nest boxes for other birds to breed in to avoid competition .

With success!

Year Pairs
2002 25
2012 105

In all this years, most of the Hoopoes used these nest boxes. Just a few Hoopoes used Little Owl (Athene noctua)  nest boxes and only one pair used a natural hole made by a Green Woodpecker in a fruit tree. 


Biotope of hoopoe - Kaiserstuhl / Germany
Biotope of hoopoe - Kaiserstuhl / Germany

However, to save the Hoopoe population for a longer period of time, not only the breeding habitat has to improve but also the biotope! Therefore they started to reuse the old orchards and bought or rent the most important old orchards areas in Kaiserstuhl. The biotope gets used again and the mowed grass got removed. They also planted more than 500 new fruit trees and intentionally created cavities in old trees to create natural nesting holes for Hoopoes.


Not only this protection project by Christian Stange, NABU and BUND helped the hoopoe population, it also helped the overall management of the vineyards. In the 1980's, the vinegrowers started to leave the passages between the vines and vineyards green. This was really of benefit for the hoopoes as it created suitable feeding grounds. Before 1980, the vinegrowers ploughed the soil between the vines and this did not give any chance to insects and other invertebrates to flourish. The most important prey for the hoopoes in Kaiserstuhl is: mole crickets (Gryllotalpidae), caterpillars of owlet moths (Noctuidae), scarabs of cockchafer (Melolontha) and summer chafer (Amphimallon). All this prey is perfect food for the hoopoes and allow them to have two broods a year! 

Exploring the protection project of hoopoe

Because most of the vineyards in Central Europe have the same type of  vine cultivation methods, there is a possibility that other organisations or persons can try similar projects with probable success in other countries or regions of Central Europe. Beside projects in Baden-Württemberg (Germany) other similar projects started in Elsass (France), Switzerland and Austria. 


Furthermore it is very important for a project of this size to have good support! Without the help of volunteers, NABU or BUND for the tree-cutting work, the maintenance and management of the biotope as well as the financial support, it would have been impossible that this project will be successful as it is.


This article is writing in comperation with Christian Stange 

Autor: Charel Klein 


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Research of Woodlark Lullula arborea on the former military training field at Münsingen

With upcoming conflicts of wild boars around protected areas such as the core zones of the biosphere reserve ‘Schwäbische Alb’, the research centre for wildlife at Aulendorf has launched a project to study its ecology and behaviour more closely.  One part of the research project is to determine the influence of its activity on important bird species such as woodlarks and its habitat preference. The main observations are taking place at the former military training field at Münsingen, which is part of the biosphere reserve.


Populations of woodlark across Europe have been in decline, with habitat loss in favour to agricultural land as major cause. However, agricultural development and intensification has not been affecting landscape and wildlife at the former training field here in Münsingen and periodic training manoeuvres didn’t seem to have bothered the local woodlark population during the last century. The right mix of habitat structures such as sparse vegetation with areas of bare or disturbed ground for foraging, patches of longer grass which provides cover and the vicinity of woodland for song perches or security is commonly found here. Nowadays the maintenance of an open landscape here  is largely due to sheep grazing, but also wildlife such as roe deers, wild boars and hares do their share.  

Apart from woodlarks, one can see a vast abundance of common bird species like red kites Milvus milvus, European pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca and European stonechats Saxicola rubicola and furthermore rarities such as whinchats Saxicola rubetra and northern wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe.  


My objective for the next two months will be to determine whether rooted patches created by wild boar are frequently used by woodlarks and form important feeding grounds, especially during the breeding season. And as a secondary goal, I will be detecting habitat preferences and collecting information about the breeding territories.


Since the beginning of April, I started observing woodlarks and am really looking forward to gain first results.


I strongly recommend visiting the biosphere reserve and especially the former training fields here at Münsingen to all nature and biodiversity lovers!


Yours sincerely,

Max Steinmetz

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