Category Archives: History

When did the Osprey last breed in Switzerland?

Last Osprey nest in Switzerland
Last known Osprey eyrie in Switzerland, photographed 16 April 1915 at Ellikon am Rhine ZH in a Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris. Reproduced from Stemmler (1932).

Ospreys in Switzerland were recorded as breeding for the last time along the Rhine River in 1914, with the last observation of a territorial male observed in 1915 or possibly even in 1919. Since this time Ospreys are only seen in Switzerland during migration periods in the spring and fall, with occasional visits during the summer.

In his book Die Adler der Schweiz (1932), Carl Stemmler has provided invaluable information on the last breeding Ospreys in Switzerland. He recounts how, on April 15, 1911, a young man named Merk brought him a dead female Osprey that he had wounded with buckshot (and afterwards tried finishing her off with a Swiss Army knife, and ended up strangling her with a rope)! He had been planning on taking the bird to the taxidermist to get it stuffed. After some discussion, he agreed to sell the bird to Stemmler as well as show him the nest where he had killed the bird, which was located in Ellikon am Rhein (canton of Zurich). The lad explained how he and a friend had stolen the eggs at night, because they knew that if they had waited, three other lads were getting ready to steal the eggs the following morning. Stemmler bought the bird from him for 15 francs and the three eggs for 5 francs. The young man told him that he killed an Osprey each year to sell to the local taxidermist. After this encounter, Stemmler recounted that Merk then emigrated to Texas! Continue reading When did the Osprey last breed in Switzerland?

Why did the Osprey disappear as a breeding species in Switzerland?

The Osprey once bred throughout Europe where there was suitable aquatic habitat, but they disappeared from a large part of western, central and southern Europe. For the most part only populations in northern Europe, specifically in Fennoscandia but also some small populations in Eastern Germany and Poland, remained. Continue reading Why did the Osprey disappear as a breeding species in Switzerland?