Climate Change: the Impact on Bird Behaviour and Reproduction

The impact of climatic parameters on behaviour and reproduction of native bird species

Climate change is a fact. There is nothing we can do against. We can only speculate about the importance of these changes and how they might affect us and our environment. The present generation will witness what will happen in the near future but they will be those who may still have the possibility to influence the outcome. Therefore, it is important to give them the necessary skills and opportunities. The aim of this project was to demonstrate how to examine the influence of environmental factors on habitat selection, ecology and breeding behaviour of a bird, namely the blue tit living in our immediate surroundings (e.g. Wienerwald).
This project had three main objectives.

  • The establishment of a long-term research site for data collection on bird’s ecology. The school was a perfect long-term partner for the collection of scientific data. One reason was that the Sacré Coeur School is located in the middle of a big oak wood interspersed with meadows.
  • Encouraging young people as scientists: The following parameters were collected by 246 pupils: Climatic data, data regarding vegetation, phenological development, and provision of food.
  • The creation of high-quality scientific work and the results were published in important international journals.

The students had to do a variety of jobs! They had to measure several climate parameters with our own climate station sponsored by the Central Insitute for Meteorology and Geodynamics. They had to build nest boxes for blue tits, which have a special design. Together with Professor Lang (geography) a group of students was responsible for mapping the nest boxes in the study area. Many students were needed to observe the behaviour of the birds (e.g. male singing and territorial behaviour and parental feeding). During the breeding season they had to determine arrival, nest box occupation, clutch size, and chick development. Several students were responsible for vegetation phenology and others to determine insect abundance (food of blue tits) and phenology.

This project has been completed.