Europe's breeding birds get long-overdue stocktake - British Trust for Ornithology

Cattle Egret by Philip Croft
Cattle Egret by Philip Croft

New European Breeding Bird Atlas, a milestone for biodiversity research and nature conservation in Europe, is published today.


The European Bird Census Council (EBCC) publishes the second European Breeding Bird Atlas EBBA2, a milestone for biodiversity knowledge in Europe

A tremendous collaborative effort by the EBCC and its partner organisations made it possible to collect bird data from across 11 million km2 in a systematic and standardised manner.

With around 120,000 volunteer fieldworkers from all countries in Europe, EBBA2 is one of the biggest citizen science projects on biodiversity ever.

Selected results

Almost 600 bird species currently breed in Europe; 539 are native species and 57 non-native (introduced from elsewhere in the world). Most of these species are not widespread but restricted to small areas of Europe.

35% of all native species have increased the area where they breed over the last 30 years, 25% have contracted their breeding range and the rest did not show a change or the trend is unknown.

‘Winners’, with increased ranges, include many species of forests and those protected by international legislation. ‘Losers’, with decreased ranges, include many species of farmland.

Land use change and climate change appear to be the main causes of changes in distribution.

During the fieldwork period 2013–2017 EBBA2 recorded 539 native bird species breeding in Europe, 59 of which are mainly concentrated in Europe (near-endemics) and 40 are species that can be found only in Europe (endemic). There are few species as widespread as White Wagtail or Common Cuckoo, which were recorded in over 85% of all 50-km squares surveyed in EBBA2. More than 50% of the species occurred in less than 10% of all surveyed squares, so that all countries and regions have their own specific responsibility towards this common wealth.

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