Cattle exclosure plots to enhance breeding whinchat Saxicola rubetra numbers on sub-alpine pasture at Bever, Graubunden Canton, Switzerland

  • Published source details Horch P. & Birrer S. (2011) Cattle exclosure plots to enhance breeding whinchat Saxicola rubetra numbers on sub-alpine pasture at Bever, Graubunden Canton, Switzerland. Conservation Evidence, 8, 81-86.


A project undertaken from 2003 to 2009 evaluated the efficacy of cattle exclosures to enhance breeding whinchat Saxicola rubetra numbers in a 65 ha study area comprising sub-alpine cattle-grazed pasture (42 ha) and hay meadows in the Southern Alps of Switzerland. Potentially suitable nesting sites were created in the pasture by erecting fences to exclude cattle, and this made available additional perches (providing hunting and song posts in territories) where previously mostly lacking. One 0.9 ha plot was excluded from grazing cattle with a wooden fence, and five smaller 0.1 ha plots with electric fences. Whinchats used the plots as parts of their territories and the fence posts as song posts and perches. The 0.9 ha plot secured whinchat territories until 2009. For the five 0.1 ha plots there was no clear effect on whinchat territory occupancy. Over the study period the whinchat population declined (following a general regional trend) from a high of 27 pairs in 1990 to a low of six pairs in 2009.

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