Citizen scientists monitoring birds for policy, research and society in Europe
The European Bird Census Council nurtures pan-European cooperation on bird monitoring in order to inform conservation decision-making. The intitiative collects data through three citizen science projects and engages volunteer birdwatchers in simple recording methods on a massive scale.
Through working together with national partners, each of these projects supports not only the fostering of local birdwatching communities, but also delivering a myriad of well-being benefits to each of the individual volunteers who participate.
The EuroBirdPortal (EBP) brings online bird records together from more than 100,000 citizen observers to show movements of birds across Europe in near real-time. The European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (EBBA2) – one of the biggest biodiversity mapping projects ever undertaken – has received data from 120,000 participants to map the distribution of all of Europe’s birds. The Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) tracks trends in 170 species and produces world-leading biodiversity indicators. Each of these three projects are easy and engaging to take part in but produce top-quality scientific outputs that have found a myriad of uses, including at the highest levels of European Union policy-making.
The European Bird Census Council nurtures pan-European cooperation on bird monitoring with the aim of informing conservation decision-making. Data is collected through three citizen science projects, engaging volunteer birdwatchers in simple recording methods on a massive scale. Over 100,000 observers collect observations on birds movements across Europe nearly in real-time.
Projects produce top-quality scientific outputs used for conservation purposes,, including at the highest levels of EU policy-making.European Union Prize for Citizen Science Jury 2023 (Kat Austen, Lewis Hou, Pedro Russo, Andrea Sforzi, Stefanie Wuschitz). View full Statement here.
The initative is grateful to EBCC national delegates, coordinators of monitoring schemes and other activities as well as supporting organisations. Its work would not have been possible without a work of thousands of dedicated and skilled volunteer fieldworkers across Europe.
Mark Eaton (GB) has been working in conservation science, with a principal focus on the monitoring of birds, for almost three decades. Until recently he was Principal Conservation Scientist in Monitoring Science at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the BirdLife partner in the UK. Much of this work involved in working with citizen scientists, such as the 500,000+ participants in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey. His work has frequently had an international component and I have helped develop new monitoring programmes in Asia and Africa, as well as in numerous European countries. I joined the board of the EBCC in 2010, and became Chair in 2019. In recent years my work has changed to running the UK’s Rare Breeding Birds Panel, another organisation dedicated to monitoring bird populations through volunteer participation – in a true example of citizen science, he has maintained my role with the EBCC as a volunteer! The ability to work with such an amazing European network of dedicated and talented scientists and enthusiastic volunteers is an immense privilege and a highlight of his professional career.
Petr Voříšek (CZ) has worked at the Czech Society for Ornithology since 1996 in various positions, including Director, and has been involved in much of the EBCC’s work over that time. He was first coordinator of the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme and was instrumental in developing the scheme from the initial instigation in 2002 until 2018. He was also one of three individuals in the core team responsible for coordinating the European Breeding Bird Atlas 2, and over the last twenty years has played an immense role in developing the EBCC’s network of citizen scientists across Europe. When the EBCC formed a central secretariat team in 2022, Petr was the obvious person to manage the office. Domestically, he is a member of the coordination team of the Czech common breeding bird scheme. Apart from the coordination, he is an active and keen volunteer contributor to bird monitoring studies — a true citizen scientist. His core expertise is in setting-up bird monitoring schemes including citizen science programmes, field methods, sampling, data management and analyses. He has long-term knowledge of the bird monitoring community in Europe, and extensive experience with methodological and organisational issues across Europe. He was awarded the Marsh Award for International Ornithology 2019.