Song bird migration over the German Bight

BfN projects Birdmove / Trackbird

The German marine area is regularly crossed by land birds migrating between breeding sites in northern Eurasia (mostly Scandinavia)and wintering sites reaching far into the southern Hemisphere. Species range from our smallest songbirds, e.g. firecrests and warblers, to big birds like geese and cranes. Literature ranging back to the middle of the 19th century documents bird migration recorded at the coast or on islands. Recently, these records are extended by data collected on offshore research platforms, by boat and plane. Taken together, good evidence exists for the range of species migrating over this area as well as on main migration times and stopover sites of migratory birds.

Despite the long history of research on song bird migration, many questions are still open. We wish to address some of these in our research project:

  • Which individual routes are taken by song birds during migration over the German Bight?
  • Which intrinsic and extrinsic conditions lead to individualdecisionson crossing the open water or following the coast line?
  • Do middle and long distance migrants differ in their choice of flight path?
  • Do offshore windparks influence flight path decisions?

To answer these questions we are building a chain of Radiotelemetry-receivers covering the complete German North Sea coastline. We will equip song birds with radiotags and follow individual flight paths during migration. More details on the project can be found in our flyer (see right column)


Brust V, Hüppop O (2021) Underestimated scale of songbird offshore migration across the south-eastern North Sea during autumn, Journal of Ornithology,

Michalik B, Brust V, Hüppop O (2020) Are movements of daytime and nighttime passerine migrants as different as day and night? Ecology and Evolution 00: 1-12,

Brust V, Michalik B, Hüppop O (2019) To cross or not to cross – thrushes at the German North Sea coast adapt flight and routing to wind conditions in autumn,  Movement Ecology 7:32,

Brust V, Hüppop O (2018) Individuelle Zugentscheidungen von Singvögeln an der deutschen Nordseeküste Jber Inst Vogelforsch 13, 11

Brust V, Michalik B & Hüppop O (2018) Individuelle Flugwege kleiner Singvögel zur Zugzeit an der Deutschen Bucht. Vogelwarte 56, 367

Schmaljohann H, Brust V, Hüppop O (2018) Automatische Verfolgung kleiner Vögel - der technische Fortschritt hält Einzug in die Vogelzugforschung über der Nordsee, Nachr Marschenrat 55, 57-62