Berlin/Hilpoltstein. The Whinchat is “Bird of the Year” 2023. With around 43 percent of the votes, it prevailed by a large margin against tree sparrows, red-backed shrikes, pied flycatchers and moorhens, according to the German Nature Conservation Union (Nabu) and the Bavarian State Association for Bird and Nature Conservation (LBV). ) announced on Thursday. In 1987 the little songbird already had this title.
It is the third time that the two nature conservation organizations have called for the election of the bird of the year. Nabu and LBV have been choosing this since 1971, but in the past it was the experts who chose the bird. Now they only make a preselection. Almost 135,000 people took part in the online election this year.
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Whinchats suffer from intensive farming
With the Whinchat, this time they have given a bird species that is highly endangered across Europe the attention it so urgently needs, said Nabu and LBV. The whinchat suffers from intensive agriculture because it needs species-rich meadows and flower strips. According to the nature conservation associations, there are still 19,500 to 35,000 breeding pairs in Germany, and the trend is falling sharply.
“We have tirelessly deprived birds such as the whinchat of habitat and food and are still doing so,” explained Nabu bird expert Stefan Bosch. Fallow land has been built over, fields and meadows are often mowed and fertilized for animal feed. “Recreational use sometimes disturbs the birds when breeding,” explained Bosch. Although the causes and needs are known, the decline in whinchats continues unabated.
The Whinchat gets its name from its brown-orange chest and throat. It likes damp meadows, fallow land and field edges – especially if there are individual bushes, tall shrubs or fence posts on them. There, the 12 to 14 centimeter large bird settles down to sing or hunt for insects.
The Whinchat spends the winter south of the Sahara. Already in September it started the journey of more than 5000 kilometers. It returns north again in April.