Austria Alps-group

single groups
Study area: Großglockner Höhenstrasse, Salzburger Land, Austria

Research on life history traits and plasticity in high altitudes, Colour marking and monitoring of breeding population.

The Austrian Snowfinch Research Group represents a collaboration between researchers of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and the Vogelwarte Sempach (Swizzerland) and voluntary bird ringers.

At the research site

There is also Research station house (Haus der Natur, Salzburg) at the site.

Main goals of research activities and conservation measures

• Breeding biology, ecomorphology and survival;

• Long-term population monitoring to estimate demographic parameters;

• Studies to understand the population dynamics; including deseases;

• Fine scale habitat preferences and feeding ecology in relation to time, snow cover, land use and climate;

• Assessment of the potential impacts of global change on population dynamics;

• To inform the general public about the risks faced by alpine birds due to climate change;

Former Research

Monitoring of breeding population since 1980

Monitoring of specific single nest sites at lower elevation since 1960

Research activity with installing nest boxes between 2000-2004

Ringing activity results:

Since last century snowfinches have been ringed at this mountain by Ambros Aichhorn.

His knowledge and expertise and friendship is very important for us.

He gave us much very detailed information on breeding biology and on former distributions of this species, that occurred at lower elevation than nowadays.

With 2000 Rorbert Lindner started research and his PhD with B. LoidlN. Loidl and CH. Sichler and John Parker on snowfinches at this site.

Since then John Parker has continuously been ringing adults and fledglings every year and has been monitoring the population regularly.

The advantage besides this trustful continuous ringing is the amount of very suitable breeding boxes for the snowfinches that had been established beginning at 2000.

Still these boxes have been carefully maintained by John Parker.

New research project started 2020

In a prestudy in June 2020 we clarified feasibility of a greater research study at this nest box population and ringed youngs and adults and established feeding and habitat mapping protocols, standardized with Suisse protocols.

First field season with breeding monitoring, feeding observations and snow measurements started in June 2021.

Colour ring project:

Start 2021: PVC alphanumeric (3 digits) colour rings (light blue = breeding population at study area), before June 2021 red aluminium and grey PVC alphanumeric had been used.

Coordinator of the Group in Austrian Alps:

• Sabine Hille - Universität für Bodenkultur Wien University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Recent researchers involved in the Group “Austrian Alps” (in chronological order)

• John Parker -(Salzburger Land)

• Fanni Ijjas (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

• Charel Klein - (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

• Carole Niffenegger - (Division Conservation Biology, University of Bern, Switzerland and University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

• Severin Zauner - (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

• Christina Ahrer - (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

• Julia Schuster - (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)


Martin Päckert, Jens Hering, Abdelkrim Ait Belkacem, Yue-Hua Sun, Sabine Hille, Davaa Lkhagvasuren, Safiqul Islam & Jochen Martens 2021. A revised multilocus phylogeny of Old World sparrows (Aves: Passeridae), Vertebrate Zoology 71, 353–366    DOI 10.3897/vz.71.e65952

Sabine M. Hille & Caren B. Cooper 2014. Elevational trends in life histories: revising the pace-of-life framework. Biol. Rev. 2014, 204-213    DOI 10.1111/brv.12106

© author Fränzi Korner




© author Claire Pernollet





© author Fränzi Korner

When you visit the Großglockner Alpine Street and you identify snowfinches with coloured rings and numbers please inform us: Sabine Hille 

Großglockner Höhenstrasse, Salzburger Land, Austria 

© author Sabine Hille