Swallows as neighbors?

Swallows live close to humans around their houses and farms. Where do they nest in the district of Tulln in Lower Austria?

birds, swallow nests, nestlings

The project overview

Area of Science: Natural Sciences
Location: District of Tulln, Lower Austria
Used Devices: with PC/Mobile
Equipment of citizen scientists: Camera or smartphone for photos; computer, tablet or smartphone with internet access to enter data; optional: binoculars and field guide
Activities of citizen scientists: observing, photographing, mapping
Suitable for: Youngsters and adults
Project duration: 01.03.2019 - 01.09.2019
Time to join in: 01.04.2019 - 05.07.2019
Expenditure of time: 5 minutes per observation
Project website: http://wildenachbarn.at/

Project objective

Different scientific methods like camera trapping, transect sampling and citizen science are combined in the project „Wilde Nachbarn“ to be able to predict and analyse occurrence and distribution of wildlife in rural settlement areas.

Also, barn swallows and house martins are observed. They live in close vicinity to humans and their buildings. Each year both species return from their overwintering grounds in Africa to Central Europe and stay for the summer to raise their young stock. They build their nests on walls, whether it be houses or inside stables or other buildings. Within the last years, declining insect populations and increasing areas of sealed-up soil have had an impact on the birds. They need about a kilogram of insects per brood to feed their chicks and open soil to collect material for nest building.

The research objective was to achieve an overview the occurrence of those two bird species in the district of Tulln in Lower Austria, which has a good habitat quality due to the vineyards and the floodplains of the Danube.

How did citizen scientists participate?

Citizen scientists counted barn swallow and house martin nests in and on buildings within the district of Tulln. They differentiated between occupied and not occupied nests, as well as nests that are under construction. The nest survey was done following a standardised online protocol. Therefore nests were photographed and data entered on www.wildenachbarn.at

For participation in the project, a full registration on the webpage was necessary.

What happened to the contributions of citizen scientists?

The observations from citizen scientists were included in a first time survey of the swallow population in the district of Tulln and were scientifically analysed. The project raised awareness for the needs of barn swallows and house martins. Additionally, the data can be used for future analysis on swallows in Austria. 


How are winners being determined 
Individuals and one school class with the most observations of swallow nests will win. Each swallow nest per site (e.g. house) is counted and reported. One point per nest will be given. Extra points can be achieved by reporting the status of the nest: occupied, non-occupied or under construction. Only observations with pictures and from fully registered users will count. Contributions will be randomly verified. False reporting leads to disqualification from the contest and data will be excluded from the analyses.

The winners will be announced at the festive ceremony on 19 November 2019. 

Non-cash prizes for two individuals, a cash-prize for one school class in the amount of 1,000 euros. 

Participating and supporting institutions


Theresa Walter and Richard Zink

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