The class of birds includes 307 regularly observable bird species in Germany. Birds belong to the vertebrates and have wings, feathers made of horn and a beak without teeth as common features. Although wings are a characteristic of birds, not all birds can fly.

Birds that cannot fly are e.g. penguins or ostriches. Birds probably evolved from small predatory dinosaurs about 160 million years ago.

Ein Haubentaucher mit zwei Küken auf dem Wasser zwischen Seerosen im UNESCO-Biosphärenreservat. © W. Stürzbecher
The Great Crested Grebe belongs to the grebe family and prefers banks overgrown with reeds.

The Biosphere Reserve is of supra-regional importance due to its large late summer moulting/resting populations of great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus), greylag geese (Anser anser) and tufted ducks (Aythya fuligula), as well as the autumn resting and winter populations of greater white-fronted geese and bean geese (Anser albifrons and Anser fabalis).
With over 25,000 waterfowl, the Schaalsee area is a clear concentration point for the occurrence of the species mentioned.

Ein Drosselrohrsänger auf Schilfrohr. © W. Stürzbecher
The great reed warbler can be found on waters with many reeds. It builds its nest on reed stalks and finds its food on the banks.

Breeding birds of the lakes include mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), gadwall (Anas strepera), common pochard (Aythya ferina), tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) and red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), greylag goose (Anser anser), common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus).
Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and common merganser (Mergus merganser) regularly breed in old wood stands close to the shore and rich in caves.

Drei Kraniche auf einem feuchten Acker. © W. Spillner
Cranes are frequent visitors to the Biosphere Reserve. During resting and breeding, they benefit from the EU bird sanctuary .

Characteristic species of the wetlands are the white stork (Ciconia ciconia), the green sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) and the common snipe (Gallinago gallinago).
The common crane (Grus grus) regularly breeds in the area, with around 80 breeding pairs. On the eastern shore of the Schaalsee there is an autumnal resting and gathering place for cranes.
Good observation opportunities are offered by the observation tower on the lakeside promenade in Zarrentin, the Kranichkieker in Neuenkirchen or the observation tower in Klocksdorf at the Röggeliner See. 

Ein Neuntöter auf einem Ast. © E. Steffen
The red-backed shrike is found in semi-open cultivated landscapes with many hedges.

The diversity of small biotopes created in the course of the development of the rural cultural landscape is home to, among others, whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), barred warbler (Sylvia nisoria), red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio), river warbler (Locustella fluviatilis) and corn bunting (Emberiza calandra) as breeding birds.
Around 17,000 ha of the Biosphere Reserve Schaalsee belong to the EU bird sanctuary Schaalsee, Special Protected Area (SPA).

18 Nandu-Kücken stehen in einem Getreidefeld und recken die Köpfe in die Höhe. © M. Hippke
A greater rhea cock pairs with several hens. He hatches the up to 20 eggs himself and takes care of the rearing of the young alone.

In 1999/2000, several greater rheas (Rhea americana) escaped from an inadequately secured enclosure near Groß Grönau (Schleswig-Holstein) and entered the northern area of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schaalsee (between Utecht and Schattin). 

The last count of greater rheas took place on 13 November 2020. A total of 291 animals were registered: 151 adult birds, 72 young birds and 38 animals whose age and sex could not be determined.