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Because the partridge could become extinct

It was on "all fields". But now the partridge is one of the most declining species of birds. According to the experts, it can be helped locally – there is no real hope.

Series of photos with 11 images

In the past, walkers have accidentally surprised a group of partridges in the field, which flew into the air with a loud bang. But now the species is threatened and could become extinct despite supportive measures. The nature conservation biologist Eckhard Gottschalk from the University of Göttingen talks about it. Because such surprising encounters between humans and birds belong to the past.

"These days are far away," says University of Göttingen researcher. The animals that once "substantially belonged to all the fields" have suffered such dramatic losses in the last decades as almost no other species of birds.

The inventory fell sharply within 36 years

Of the 91 percent, stocks in Germany from 1980 to 2016, as announced by the umbrella organization German Avifaunists (DDA). Only the lapwing exceeds this dramatic decline by more than 93 percent – the third place is followed by the turtle dove with almost 89 percent. They share the same fate as the partridge: "These are all kinds of open landscapes," explains Sven Trautmann of the DAA. On arable land, they reproduce or find their food.

In view of the dramatic decline, representatives of agriculture, science, nature conservation, hunting, politics and administration come together in Rottenburg near Tübingen to advise on the protection of soil-living birds . According to Gottschalk, the Baden-Württemberg partridge is considered threatened with extinction: in Germany, according to Gottschalk, it is "in the second highest category of the Red List: seriously threatened".

"There are actually three main causes," explains the conservation biologist. First of all, it is called insect decline. "The chicks live on insects and in intensive farming areas, the partridge no longer finds enough food". Therefore, the habitat for the partridge is becoming increasingly scarce, another cause. At the same time, this makes the birds (point three) more sensitive to their enemies like the fox. Because it can easily find animals in the few places suitable for them.

The project creates the habitat for the partridges

The bird protection center of the Naturschutzbund Mössingen in the Tübingen district is trying to offer a habitat more suited to partridges. "It takes robust structures – it must be covered all year", explains Sabine Geißler-Strobel of the "Artenartschaft Neckartal Initiative". For example, perennial flowering shrubs, because they provide safe breeding areas and food until winter. "What we are currently promoting most in the country is the annual fallow land". For partridges and many other species, these would have no function.

An excursion to the newly created habitats in the district is scheduled for conference participants. I hope to meet Geißler-Strobel but not partridges but: "At the moment, the day is on the cover and therefore we probably won't notice it".

But it exists again: the partridges have agreed with the support measures. "We now have twelve areas in one area," said Geissler-Strobel, "calling them roosters, which we hope will later be paired." In 2017 there were six areas, eleven last year.

The partridge areas also benefit other species

"If we take measures for the partridge, we also promote an entire range of other species," says nature conservation biologist Gottschalk. Where the partridge still lives, so many other species could live – besides the birds, this also affects the hares. "The partridge is therefore also a good indicator of an intact landscape".

However, according to him the possibilities are not good: "I fear that the partridge disappears like a bird of normal landscape and we could therefore have such reserves in which we can still keep the partridges with intensive measures". In many places, the partridge was finally completely disappeared. "You must be lucky if you meet a partridge, because they hide well." Seeing one is really a stroke of luck. "