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Raven Corvus corax ©Gerd Rossen Website

Schleswig-Holstein is the only German federal state that lies between two seas. Between these runs the Kiel Canal, the busiest man-made waterway in the world. The Land Schleswig-Holstein is bordered in the north by Denmark and the Baltic; in the east by Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the Baltic; in the south by Hamburg and Lower Saxony and in the west by the North Sea.

The marshlands represent the youngest landscape, being formed of marine sediments laid down in the Ice Age. Among these are the marshlands on the mainland and the Wadden Sea as well as the islands. They are characterised by heavy, fertile soils. The islands are Fehmarn: 185.35 sq. km Sylt 97.02 sq. km, Föhr 82.81 sq. km, Nordstrand 48.64 sq. km,Pellworm 36.24 sq. km, Amrum 20.45 sq. km and Helgoland 4.20 sq. km

The Geest, a band of light, sandy soil, interspersed with patches of moorland that forms a "central spine" between the marshlands and the hills is composed of landscapes of different ages and diverse origins, characterised by poor soils. In the west is the High Geest formed of Saalian moraines; in the east is the flat Low Geest deriving from sandy fluvioglacial deposits of the Weichselian period. The Low Geest has extensive areas of bog.

The hill country along the Baltic coast in the east was formed by the glaciers that covered Schleswig-Holstein during the last European Ice Age (the Weichselian glaciation). The ice left behind a diverse young moraine landscape. The hills, impressive in their form and relative elevation, meet the Baltic at a coast of bays and fjords.

A characteristic feature of the Schleswig-Holstein landscape are the Knicks, hedge and earth bank combinations intended to mark the boundaries between fields. These provide a retreat for insects and birds and offer protection against wind and erosion. For this reason the Knicks are identified as a protected biotope (a habitat with its associated species) under Schleswig-Holstein's nature conservation legislation.

There are a number of Islands

Fehmarn: 185.35 sq. km; Sylt: 97.02 sq. km; Föhr: 82.81 sq. km; Nordstrand: 48.64 sq. km; Pellworm: 36.24 sq. km; Amrum: 20.45 sq. km; Helgoland:4.20 sq. km

Schleswig-Holstein has some 300 lakes, covering 28,000 hectares, approximately 1.7% of the total surface area of the Land. They are home to very many animal and plant species. Endangered species such as the sea eagle have now re-established themselves here.

Schleswig-Holstein has 21,700 km of rivers and streams – something like half the circumference of the earth! They provide habitats for the otter and the kingfisher and are a paradise for canoeists. The longest rivers are the Eider 180 km, the Trave 112 km and the Stör 83 km.


David Conlin

Useful Reading

Vogelwelt Schleswig-Holsteins, Band 5: Brutvogelatlas

R K Berndt, B Koop & B Struwe-Juhl - Wachholtz 2003

ISBN: 3529073059

Buy this book from NHBS.com


Federation of German Avifaunists (Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten e.V. - DDA)


The Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten e.V. (DDA) is an umbrella organisation for all German avifaunists. The website contains a wealth of information about the DDA and its monitoring programmes. Here you will find advice and information on bird registration and recording projects, some initial results and completed publications, details of competent local contacts or up to date avifaunistic information and schedules.
(translation by David Conlin translations@david-conlin.de)

NABU Schleswig-Holstein


Homepage with information on birding areas in the province…

Regional Owl Conservation Group - Schleswig-Holstein


The Schleswig-Holstein Regional Owl Conservation Group was founded in 1981 for the conservation of our local owls. It runs the provincial government species protection programme Re-introduction of the Eagle Owl into Schleswig-Holstein and further protection programmes for conservation of threatened local owl species (Tengmalm's Owl, Barn Owl and Little Owl).

Schleswig-Holstein - Schleswig-Holstein Ornithological Society


The ornithological society of the most northern of the German provinces (also covers the city-state of Hamburg).. Here you will find all necessary information on the organisation; whose aim is the scientific study and conservation of the avifauna of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg…


Abbreviations Key

Wadden Sea National Park


Satellite View

Wallnau - NABU Wildfowl Reserve


Satellite View

The water bird reservation Wallnau which is located on the Fehmarn peninsula ranks among the most valuable and most interesting areas of the Baltic.. The mosaic of different habitats have been managed for many years. Together with East Holstein and Schleswig-Holstein branches the NABU set themselves the aim of protecting meadows and small woods and special habitats for animals and plants.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2007 [10 October] - Hans Schick


From Oktober 06 – 13, 2007 I spent 8 days at the German North Sea coast in the Districts of Nordfriesland and Dithmarschen in Schleswig-Holstein…

2010 [05 May] - Hans Schick - Birdwatching in Fehmarm and Helgoland


From April 24 – May 02, 2010 I visited together with Stefan Wedler the German Islands of Fehmarn in the Baltic Sea and Helgoland in the North Sea for birdwatching. We also used the opportunity to spend a day at the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein in the surroundings of Tönning…

2011 [10 October] - Han Schick - Birdwatching in Helgoland


From October 20 – 26, 2011 I visited the German island of Helgoland in the North Sea for birdwatching. Due to strong winds I had to wait a day in Cuxhaven prior to the passage to the island. I used this day for birdwatching at the North Sea coast near Cuxhaven…


Heligoland Bird Observatory


Satellite View

The Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (OAG) Helgoland e.V. (Heligoland Ornithological Work Group) was founded on 9th March 1991 with the aim of supporting research on birds on Heligoland. The number of the members has recently risen to over 500. The main task of the OAG is to publish the annual Bird Report for the island, in cooperation with the Institut für Vogelforschung "Vogelwarte Helgoland". All OAG members receive a copy of the Report free of charge…

Other Links

Birding Germany


Christoph Moning’s & Christian Wagner’s very detailed website (in German) with recommended birdwatching areas and species lists for Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Hesse and the Wadden Sea.