Ground-Nesting Birds on Green Roofs in Switzerland: Preliminary Observations

by Nathalie Baumann

University of Applied Sciences Wädenswil, Dept. of Natural Resources Sciences Green Roof Competence Centre, Grüental, Postfach 335, 8820 Wädenswil, Switzerland


Bird species in Switzerland are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation due to increasing urbanization. New research is showing that green roofs can provide food habitat for some bird species. But little research has been done on the potential of green roofs for providing nesting locations for birds, particularly ground-nesting species. This preliminary two-year study (part of a larger, multiyear project) examined the breeding success of the little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius) and northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) on flat green roofs in five sites in Switzerland surrounded by varied levels of development. Results show that northern lapwings have begun to breed consistently, though as of yet unsuccessfully, on some green roofs. Because the observation time was short, the available data are incomplete. Nonetheless, they show certain tendencies with regard to the habitat selection and behavior of young and adult birds—important information that can be applied to future research and green roof design.

Key words: Biodiversity; breeding success; green roofs; ground-nesting birds; little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius); northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus); urban ecology