Nature Wachau

The Wachau has a unique geological, climatic and scenic diversity that is reflected in the vast species of flora and fauna.

The precious dry grass lawns of the Wachau are situated direcly next to the vineyards.

The diverse habitats harbour 30 different species of orchids, including the slipper orchid and the Adriatic lizard orchid. Sightings of peregrine falcons, cirl buntings, black storks, owls, kingfishers, white-backed woodpeckers and hoopoes are common, while the bee-eater and the white-tailed eagle are frequent guests. The Danube salmon and the nase are among the more than 50 species of fish that thrive in the Danube’s tributaries as well as the river’s calm, protected shallow zones and main bed, which are habitats also for beavers and otters.

The peregrine falcon is known to many as the emblem of Federspiel wines. But what many probably do not know is how rare the species is in Austria. The Wachau is one of the regions lucky to still have a few peregrine falcons. These birds prefer to build their nests in the steep cliffs flanking both shores of the Danube. Hunting in flight, the peregrine falcon can dive at speeds of well over 300 kph (180 mph) when pouncing on its prey, other bird species.
The green lizard derives its name from its strikingly intense colour, reminiscent of an emerald. Male members of the species exhibit an especially handsome colouring during the mating season. Found mainly in countries of the Balkan peninsula, this large lizard variety is endangered despite a widespread population. At home at altitudes ranging from 125 to 600 metres, the green lizard, like the Aesculapian snake, favours warm, dry slopes of the kind frequently found in the Wachau.
Feather grass, also known as orphan maidenhair or Steinfeder, is a species within the grass family. It is found in the Wachau especially in dry grasslands immediately surrounding vineyards. According to custom, the grass is used as a traditional decoration for hats.
Only in recent years has the cirl bunting been observed to breed in the Wachau, where it is now more prevalent than anywhere else in Austria. Temperate, open landscapes with sufficient low vegetation are its preferred habitat. Next to the rock bunting, it has become a local feature, with currently around 30 to 50 pairs. But the population continues to grow, followed keenly by observers.