How to contribute by field data collected during birdwatching trips abroad. Brief guidelines.

Going for birdwatching abroad? Then you can potentially contribute with your data to the European Breeding Bird Atlas! Here we present guidelines how to do it:


The European Bird Census Council, together with its partners across Europe, plans to produce a new atlas for breeding birds in Europe, to update the ground-breaking first atlas (Hagemeijer & Blair 1997), whose data are now 30 years old. The aim of the European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (EBBA2) is to cover the whole of Europe, but getting data on bird distribution and abundance is difficult in some countries and regions. Therefore, any reliable information is extremely valuable, including information from holidays, birdwatching trips or other opportunities to watch and record birds during their breeding seasons 2014-2017.


Many countries in eastern and south-eastern parts of Europe have the biggest difficulties to find enough local fieldworkers and foreign birdwatchers are particularly welcome there. Please see the list of priority countries below and click on the country name to open a google map).

AlbaniaTaulant Bino (
ArmeniaKaren Aghababyan (
AzerbaijanElchin Sultanov (,
BelarusAnastasiya Kuzmiankova (
Bosnia & HerzegovinaDra¾en Kotro¹an (, Jovica Sjeničić (
BulgariaStoycho Stoychev (
CroatiaVlatka Dumbovic Mazal (
CyprusMartin Hellicar (
GeorgiaGuille Mayor (
GreeceDanae Portolou (
Kazakhstan (European part)Sergey Sklyarenko (
KosovoQenan Maxhuni (
MacedoniaMetodija Velevski (
MoldovaLarisa Bogdea (,, Vitalie Ajder (
MontenegroMihailo Jovicevic (, Darko Saveljić (
RomaniaZoltan Szabo (
Russia (European part)Mikhail Kalyakin (
SpainJuan Carlos del Moral (, Blas Molina (
SerbiaDimitrije Radi¹ić (
TurkeyKerem Ali Boyla (
UkraineIgor Gorban (, Olga Yaremchenko (


Coordinators of national atlases/EBBA2 national contacts are the best placed to provide details of data required and their format. We encourage anybody interested to contribute to contact national coordinators. Nevertheless, simple data requirements, based on EBBA2 methodology apply to any country. In principle, data collected for the atlas, can come from
  1. non-standardised surveys (opportunistic data) or
  2. standardised surveys (data collected with standardised effort and methodology).

Both approaches will contribute to the production of European distribution maps (in a grid 50x50 km), the latter will be also used for modelling the distribution in Europe at a scale of 10x10 km. For details see the EBBA2 methodology.

1. Non-standardised survey (opportunistic data).
Minimum requirements on the data are very simple:
  • Species must be properly determined.
  • Any observation must include:
    • Date/s of observation (one day or a few consecutive days)
    • Geographic location (see below for details)
    • Site name (name of a town, village, mountain etc)
    • Species recorded
    • Atlas code (see below for explanation)
    • Name of observer(s) and contact (e-mail)
    • Indicate whether you recorded all species detected or just a selection of species (optional)
    • Time (optional)
    • Duration of the observation (optional)
    • Number of individuals observed (optional)
    • Any further details (optional)

Geographic location and type of information:
There are different possibilities to contribute:
  • Provide a species list for a 50x50 km square.
  • Provide a species list for a particular location, defined as square (e.g. 10x10 km or 1x1 km), polygon, route or point.
  • Provide the precise location of each observation.

2. Standardised survey (timed visits)
The aim is to obtain complete lists of species with controlled effort. The data will be used for modelling species’ distribution at 10x10 km scale across Europe. Details of the standardised surveys can differ from country to country, thus, in case you are interested in this type of fieldwork, we recommend to contact national coordinators and ask for detailed instructions. European coordinators may also act as contacts and provide square grids when necessary.

However, if you cannot fully contribute to standardised surveys for a particular country (e.g. if two visits are required but you are only staying for a short time) you can still contribute to the standard survey of the European atlas. All you have to do is to report a list of species during a timed visit of 1-2 hours following a walked route (not staying in the same place). Timed visits should be done during the time of day birds are most active, i.e. usually early morning. Thus, the data requirements are:
  • Species must be properly determined (caution – making complete species list requires very good knowledge and determination skills)
  • A report on an observation of a species must include (information indicated as optional is preferred as it will significantly increase the value of the records):
    • Date of observation
    • Site name (name of a town, village, mountain etc) as precisely as possible
    • Geographic location: 10x10 or 1x1 square, route or area covered (e.g. in BirdTrack), or geographical coordinates (GPS) of the centre of the surveyed area.
    • Species recorded
    • Atlas code (see below for explanation)
    • Time (beginning and end)
    • Name of observer(s) and contact (e-mail)
    • Number of recorded individuals (optional)
    • Any further details (optional)

Both approaches can be easily combined. For instance, you can start with a timed visit early in the morning, and can spend the rest of the day visiting different habitats searching for other species.


Species list for 50x50 km square with highest atlas code, provided on an Excel sheet

Download an Excel table for non-standardised data.

Download an Excel table for standardised data.

Species list for a defined polygon in the example of BirdTrack

Precise location in the example of the ornitho app

Location in the example of


Breeding season, i.e. spring from c. second half of April to end of June. Caution: the breeding season depends on latitude and altitude, climatic conditions etc. If you are not sure, please check the timing with the coordinators.
Data from years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 are desirable. In case you have data slightly older, e.g. from 2012 or 2011, such data may be also useful, especially in countries with lack of data. Please consult it with European coordinators.

Data delivery

The data can be delivered in a simple format (e.g. Excel spreadsheet) containing the required information (see above for data requirements for standardised and non-standardised surveys). We prefer that data are delivered to national coordinators, who are best placed to validate them before submitting them to the European coordinators. Direct delivery to the European coordinators is also possible. In such cases, we will always check the data with the national coordinators, and we will provide them with the data from their countries.

Online recording

Some countries use an on-line recording portal, where your observations could be easily entered and thus become available to the national coordinator. Using the national portals is recommended where possible. However, if you have difficulties using the national portal (e.g. for language reasons) we recommend to use the following portals with international coverage:
  • BirdTrack: this portal has been developed by the British Trust for Ornithology. The global entry tool allows to enter data anywhere in the world. It has been adapted to the purposes of EBBA2.
  • Ornitho portals: for all of the portals belonging to the ´Ornitho´ family an application for mobile phones, called NaturaList, has been developed that allows entering data from across Europe. It has special features for collecting atlas data.
  • This global and multi-taxa on-line portal and its associated application for mobile phones allow entering bird observations across Europe.

If you use BirdTrack, the Ornitho app or, data will be passed on to national coordinators and to the central EBBA2 coordination. Make sure that you tick the appropriate boxes when you subscribe to a scheme to allow data transfer.
If you want to use other portals, such as Ebird or if you are unsure what portals to use, please contact the European coordinators for advice.

Useful tips and suggestions

  • What should be avoided: making day lists containing information for very different sites, in particular when you have been covering large distances between sites.
  • Any casual record will be valuable. However, we encourage ornithologists to try to record complete lists of observed species at a given site in timed visits as described above.
  • If a species is very common you don’t have to record every single observation but make sure that you note it if you come to a new square.
  • For rare or localised species it is useful to record all observations. This can help national coordinators for conservation purposes beyond the atlas.
  • Any data from any surveyed site will be valuable, but visiting several sites with different habitats may improve the atlas coverage a lot.
  • Do not only visit birding hotspots. Data from less visited regions and "unattractive" habitats are equally important.
  • Write all your observations down while you are out in the field.
  • Document your fieldwork, take pictures, videos and share your experience with others.
  • Consult the national coordinators for safety instructions and guidance.
  • Respect national legislation and local cultural specifics.

Keep us informed

In order to improve our work, please fill the simple form. It enables us to keep records about effort and coverage for the European atlas.


European coordinators:
Sergi Herrando,
Petr Voří¹ek,
Verena Keller,

Further information available at

Download the guideline in PDF.

Atlas codes

Code Description

Non breeding

0 Species observed but suspected to be still on migration or to be summering non-breeder.

A. Possible breeding
1 Species observed in breeding season in possible nesting habitat
2 Singing male(s) present (or breeding calls heard) in breeding season

B. Probable breeding
3 Pair observed in suitable nesting habitat in breeding season
4 Permanent territory presumed through registration of territorial behaviour (song, etc.) on at least two different days a week or more apart at the same place
5 Courtship and display
6 Visiting probable nest site
7 Agitated behaviour or anxiety calls from adults
8 Brood patch on adult examined in the hand
9 Nest building or excavating nest-hole

C. Confirmed breeding
10 Distraction-display or injury-feigning
11 Used nest or eggshells found (occupied or laid within period of survey)
12 Recently fledged young (nidicolous species) or downy young (nidifugous species)
13 Adults entering or leaving nest-site in circumstances indicating occupied nest (including high nests or nest-holes, the contents of which can not be seen) or adult seen incubating
14 Adult carrying faecal sac or food for young
15 Nest containing eggs
16 Nest with young seen or heard


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