Switzerland attracts fewer birds this winter

The mild winter weather means fewer birds are overwintering in Switzerland, according to the Swiss Ornithological Institute.

This content was published on January 5, 2012 - 10:03 and agencies

Geese and gulls, which normally spend the coldest months at lakes in central Switzerland, are staying put in the North, spokesman Michael Schaad told the Swiss News Agency.

“If the weather conditions are favourable the birds conserve the energy they would expend on the journey and stay on in the North,” he said, adding “if it gets really cold, flocks of birds could still arrive.”

Bird species which breed in Switzerland and spend the winter in the South are similarly flexible, Schaad said. “Starlings, for instance, are also not moving as far as usual,” he said.

Should spring arrive early, birds which migrate only a short distance are likely to come back to Switzerland earlier, the ornithologist said. “They respond to warm weather and breed when there is enough food available.”

Birds which migrate further, such as swallows and pied flycatchers, are less likely to change their behaviour.

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