Changes in the breeding bird communities on mires and in surrounding forests in southeastern Norway during a 40-year period (1976–2015)


  • Svein Dale
  • Geir Hardeng



The breeding bird communities of 18 mires and surrounding forests in southeastern Norway were censused in 1976–77 and in 2015. We found that 53% of the mire species with sufficient data for analyses showed significant changes. Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata, Common Crane Grus grus, Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis increased, whereas Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis and Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava decreased. There were also near significant decreases of Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata and Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis. Population changes did not differ between short- and long-distance migrants. Species with marginal populations on mires declined more than mire specialist species, suggesting an indirect negative influence of problems in other habitats. Overall, there was a significant 19% decline in number of mire species, but a non-significant 7% increase in number of individuals. The bird community in the forests surrounding the mires showed significant population changes for 42% of the species with sufficient data for analyses, with increases in many resident forest species, but less so for migrants. Overall, there was a near significant 12% increase in number of forest species, and a significant 28% increase in number of individuals. Mire- and forest-associated species did not differ in population trends. Among short-distance migrants (mire and forest species combined), species wintering in agricultural habitats had more negative population changes than species wintering in other habitats. Thus, the breeding bird community on and around mires in this part of Norway has undergone large changes during the last 40 years. We discuss our results in relation to general trends of bird communities in northern Europe.


Andersen, G.S. & Bergan, M. 2013. Hekkende sjøfugl i indre Oslofjord, Oslo og Akershus 2013. Rapport, Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, avdeling Oslo og Akershus. (In Norwegian)

Arvidsson, B.L., Boström, U., Dahlén, B., de Jong, A., Kolmodin, U. & Nilsson, S.G. 1992. The importance of mires as breeding habitat for wetland birds in Sweden. Ornis Svecica 2: 67–76.

Breistøl, A. & Helberg, M. 2012. Dystre tall for hettemåkebestanden i Norge. Vår Fuglefauna 35: 150–157. (In Norwegian)

Byrkjedal, I., Kyllingstad, K., Efteland, S. & Grøsfjell, S. 2012. Population trends of Northern Lapwing, Eurasian Curlew and Eurasian Oystercatcher over 15 years in a southwest Norwegian farmland. Ornis Norvegica 35: 16–22.

Byrkjedal, I. & Kålås, J.A. 2012. Censuses of breeding birds in a South Norwegian arctic-alpine habitat three decades apart show population declines in the most common species. Ornis Norvegica 35: 43–47.

Cramp, S. & Perrins, C.M. 1977–94. Birds of the Western Palearctic. Volumes 1–9. Oxford University Press, UK.

Crick, H.Q.P. & Sparks, T.H. 1999. Climate change related to egg-laying trends. Nature 399: 423–424.

Dale, S. 2001. Female-biased dispersal, low female recruitment, unpaired males, and the extinction of small and isolated bird populations. Oikos 92: 344–356.

Dale, S., Andersen, G.S., Eie, K., Bergan, M. & Stensland, P. 2001. Guide til fuglelivet i Oslo og Akershus. Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, Oslo og Akershus. (In Norwegian)

Dale, S. & Hansen, K. 2013. Population decline in the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica in Norway. Ornis Fennica 90: 193–202.

de Jong, A. & Berg, Å. 2001. Storspoven i Sverige. Vår Fågelvärld 60(2): 6–16. (In Swedish)

Donald, P. F., Green, R.E. & Heath, M.F. 2001. Agricultural intensification and the collapse of Europe’s farmland bird populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 268: 25–29.

Enemar, A., Sjöstrand, B. & Svensson, S. 1978. The effect of observer variability on bird census results obtained by a territory mapping technique. Ornis Scandinavica 9: 31–39.

Fauchald, P., Anker-Nilssen, T., Barrett, R.T., Bustnes, J.O., Bårdsen, B.J., Christensen-Dalsgaard, S., Descamps, S., Engen, S., Erikstad, K.E., Hanssen, S.A., Lorentsen, S.-H., Moe, B., Reiertsen, T.K., Strøm, H. & Systad G.H. 2015. The status and trends of seabirds breeding in Norway and Svalbard. NINA Report 1151.

Fredriksen, Å.S., Haga, A., Hardeng, G., Johansen, P.-A., Lågbu, Ø., Sørlie, T. & Viker, V. 2011. Artsliste, bestander og trender. Østfold-Natur 46: 157–165. (In Norwegian)

Fremstad, E. 1997. Vegetasjonstyper i Norge. NINA Temahefte 12: 1–279. (In Norwegian with English summary)

Fuller, R.J., Gregory, R.D., Gibbons, D.W., Marchant, J.H., Wilson, J.D., Baillie, S.R. & Carter, N. 1995. Population declines and range contractions among lowland farmland birds in Britain. Conservation Biology 9: 1425–1441.

Green, M. & Lindström, Å. 2014. Övervakning av fåglarnas populationsutveckling. Årsrapport för 2013. Biologiska institutionen, Lunds universitet. (In Swedish)

Haavik, A. & Dale, S. 2012. Are reserves enough? Value of protected areas for boreal forest birds in southeastern Norway. Annales Zoologici Fennici 49: 69–80.

Hardeng, G. 2014. Fuglefaunaen på myrene Midtfjellmosen og Store Rekke i Aurskog-Høland, Akershus, i 1975–77 og i 2014. Fauna 67: 118–131. (In Norwegian with English summary)

Heggøy, O. & Øien, I.J. 2014. Vipa går en usikker framtid i møte. Vår Fuglefauna 37: 114–127. (In Norwegian)

Husby, M. & Stueflotten, S. 2009. Norsk Hekkefugltaksering - Bestandsutvikling i HFT-områdene for 57 arter 1995–2008. Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, rapport 6-2009. (In Norwegian)

Inger, R., Gregory, R., Duffy, J.P., Stott, I., Voříšek P. & Gaston, K.J. 2015. Common European birds are declining rapidly while less abundant species’ numbers are rising. Ecology Letters 18: 28–36.

Kålås, J.A., Husby, M., Nilsen, E.B. & Vang, R. 2014. Bestandsvariasjoner for terrestriske fugler i Norge 1996–2013. Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, rapport 4–2014. (In Norwegian)

Laaksonen, T. & Lehikoinen, A. 2013. Population trends in boreal birds: continuing declines in agricultural, northern, and long-distance migrant species. Biological Conservation 168: 99–107.

Lehikoinen, A., Green, M., Husby, M., Kålås, J.A. & Lindström, Å. 2014. Common montane birds are declining in northern Europe. Journal of Avian Biology 45: 3–14.

Moksnes, A. 2014. Hvor blir det av gjøken? Vår Fuglefauna 37: 22–23. (In Norwegian)

Nilsson, S. 2014. Long-term trends in the number of Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus breeding and wintering in Sweden. Wildfowl 64: 197–206.

Prange, H. 2005. The status of the Common Crane (Grus grus) in Europe - breeding, resting, migration, wintering and protection. North American Crane Workshop Proceedings, paper 38.

Sanderson, F.J., Donald, P.F., Pain, D.J., Burfield, I.J. & van Bommel, F.P.J. 2006. Long-term population declines in Afro-Palearctic migrant birds. Biological Conservation 131: 93–105.

Shimmings, P. & Øien, I.J. 2015. Bestandsestimater for norske hekkefugler. Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, rapport 2–2015. (In Norwegian with English summary)

Vickery, J.A., Ewing, S.R., Smith, K.W., Pain, D.J., Bairlein, F., Skorpilova, J. & Gregory, R.D. 2014. The decline of Afro-Palaearctic migrants and an assessment of potential causes. Ibis 156: 1–22.

Walther, G.-R., Post, E., Convey, P., Menzel, A., Parmesan, C., Beebee, T.J.C., Fromentin, J.-M., Hoegh-Guldberg, O. & Bairlein, F. 2002. Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416: 389–395.

Wilson, J.D., Taylor, R. & Muirhead, L.B. 1996. Field use by farmland birds in winter: an analysis of field type preferences using resampling methods. Bird Study 43: 320–332.




How to Cite

Dale, S., & Hardeng, G. (2016). Changes in the breeding bird communities on mires and in surrounding forests in southeastern Norway during a 40-year period (1976–2015). Ornis Norvegica, 39, 11–24.