Ernst Schüz

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Schüz in 1939 at Rossitten

Ernst Paul Theodor Schüz (24 October 1901 – 8 August 1991) was a German ornithologist and a curator at the natural history museum in Stuttgart.

Schüz was born in Markgröningen where his namesake father was a pastor. His mother was Elise Weitbrecht. After schooling at the Charles Gymnasium in Stuttgart, he went on to study at the University of Tübingen. He went on to study at the University of Berlin under Erwin Stresemann, receiving a doctorate in 1927. His research was on powder down feathers. He worked at the natural history museums at Hanover and Dresden and worked at the Rossitten bird observatory from 1929 under Oskar Heinroth. From 1936 he headed the Rossitten observatory and organized coordinated ringing studies on white storks and grey herons. He also conducted experiments on migration, orientation, and physiology in starlings along with Werner Rüppell and Paul Putzig. In 1943 he was drafted into the war. After the war he established the Radolfzell ornithological observatory along with Nikolaus von Bodman. Schüz helped integrate the observatory into the Max Planck Society. in 1959. From 1959 he served as director of the State Museum of Natural History at Stuttgart. He was an honorary professor at the University of Stuttgart.[1][2]

Schüz's early work was on migration and he published an atlas of bird migration in 1931 along with Hugo Weigold. In 1942 he was asked to evaluate a proposal (Storchbein Propaganda or "stork-leg propaganda") by Heinrich Himmler to use storks reared in Rossiten for German war propaganda. They were to carry propaganda to be delivered to the Boers in South Africa. Schüz pointed out that the recovery rate was less than 1% which meant that more than a 1000 storks would be needed to deliver about 10 leaflets which led the idea to be shelved.[3] He later worked on demographics, physiology, and conservation.[4] One of Schüz's important experimental studies was on white storks. Schüz's predecessor and founder of the Rossiten observatory, Thienemann, had found that birds that bred in eastern Prussia migrated southeast while those to the west migrated to the southwest. Schüz took young storks from the eastern part of this migratory divide and moved them to the western side and found that they took a southwesterly route and apparently followed the adults. He however conducted another experiment where the young were released only after all the adults had migrated and found that the eastern storks raised in the west chose an apparently innate southeasterly route.[5]

He married Tabitha Brenner in 1926 who died in 1941 shortly after the birth of their son. He married Hanna Steinheil in 1944.


  1. ^ Wüst, Walter (1993). "Professor Dr. Ernst Schüz. Ein Nachruf" (PDF). Anzeiger Ornitholog. Ges. Bayern. 32: 175–176.
  2. ^ Berthold, P. (1992). "Ernst Schüz (1901-1990)". Ibis. 134 (3): 299. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919x.1992.tb03813.x. ISSN 0019-1019.
  3. ^ de Bont, Raf (2009-11-06). "Poetry and Precision: Johannes Thienemann, the Bird Observatory in Rossitten and Civic Ornithology, 1900–1930". Journal of the History of Biology. 44 (2): 171–203. doi:10.1007/s10739-009-9209-9. ISSN 0022-5010.
  4. ^ Mayr, Ernst (1993). "In Memoriam: Ernst Schuz, 1901-1991" (PDF). The Auk. 110 (1): 127.
  5. ^ Tim., Birkhead (2014). Ten Thousand Birds : Ornithology since Darwin. Wimpenny, Jo., Montgomerie, Robert D. (Robert Dennis). Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 135. ISBN 9781400848836. OCLC 870592174.