Wild birds at the zoo

Two surveys of wild birds have been conducted at the zoo, one in 2005/2006, the other in 2016/2017. This involved taking a monthly census of the bird species and documenting the territories of breeding pairs. Altogether – breeding birds, birds stopping by to feed, winter guests, along with birds simply flying overhead – this yielded a total of 85 different species. Most wild bird species were reported during the peak fall migration in October as well as during the brooding season in April/May.

Lost and new bird species. Within the 10 years between the two surveys, the breeding territories of the various species changed considerably and shrank overall. The greatest declines were recorded for the house sparrow, great tit, carrion crow and starling. In 2017, greenfinch, barn swallow and hawfinch no longer bred here. In contrast, blackcap, moorhen, goldfinch, grey heron, great spotted woodpecker and black redstart appeared at the zoo. Some species even showed a distinct increase in brooding territories: blackbird, chaffinch, wood pigeon, robin and short-toed treecreeper.

The most common breeding birds

1.         house sparrow
2.         great tit
3.         blackcap

The rarest bird species

1.         middle spotted woodpecker
2.         black woodpecker
3.         collared flycatcher

Tips for a bird-friendly environment at home

  • Select native bushes and shrubs.
    These might include the snowball tree, sloe (blackthorn), service-berry, wild rose or cornelian cherry. Such thickets provide shelter and nesting sites, and the fruits are consumed or attract tasty insects. A well-sorted tree nursery in your area will no doubt be able to suggest additional good “bird protection trees”.
  • Ban pesticides from your property.
    Do you really need to fight off every aphid? Plant lice populations tend to peak precisely when their predators need food for their offspring. Feeding on aphids helps small birds, especially titmice, robin, wrens or black redstart, to raise their chicks. If the infestation becomes excessive, an alternative strategy is to shower them off with a strong jet of water or treat them with a stinging nettle slurry. Expert tip: plant nasturtium next to your “endangered” greenery – aphids preferentially settle there.
  • Install natural and artificial nesting aids.
    Robins or wrens like to build their nests in deadwood piles or thorny bushes. A wall overgrown with wild wine, ivy or climbing roses can also serve as brooding places as well as provide shelter and food. When purchasing nesting boxes, make sure they are simple to clean and orient the entrance holes toward East.
  • Provide water and feed, at least during extreme weather conditions.
    Today, experts actually recommend providing feed year-round. This makes the birds feel at home in heavily built-up areas throughout the year, helps keep aphids and mosquitos at bay, and enables bird-watching in every season. Important: keep the feed in every feeding station clean and dry. Silo-shaped feeders equipped with rings or rods for the birds to perch on have proven to be very effective. A garden bird bath is also a good idea, especially when temperatures go up, and can also help support thirsty bees and other insects.
  • Plant an insect-friendly flower meadow.
    Birds find plenty of food for themselves and their offspring between bell flowers, daisies, cocksfoot (orchard grass) and meadow pink.