Europe and Central Asia

European Red List of Birds


    Europe is home to more than 530 regularly occurring wild bird species, with a total estimated breeding population of around two billion pairs. Millions more migrate through the continent en route to Africa, and millions of others from the Arctic or Russia spend the winter in Europe.

    At present, 53 (10%) of these species are considered to be of global conservation concern, and are listed as 'Threatened' or 'Near Threatened' on the IUCN Red List. These range from species endemic to single islands, to widespread species occurring in many countries.

    The Red List of Birds

    The IUCN Red List is widely recognised as the most authoritative and objective system for assessing the extinction risk of species. Although it was primarily developed for global use, it can also be applied at regional and national levels, following IUCN's regional Red Listing guidelines.

    Since 2005, the European Commission has financed European Red Lists for all terrestrial vertebrate groups, except birds. During 2012–2015, a Commission-funded project – led by BirdLife International, and involving a consortium including the European Bird Census CouncilWetlands InternationalIUCNBTOSovonRSPBCzech Society for Ornithology and BirdLife Europe – filled this gap.

    The project had three main objectives:

    • To produce the European Red List of Birds, BirdLife followed current IUCN criteria and guidelines, at both pan-European and European Union (EU) scales. The results can be found on the BirdLife International DataZone;

    • To provide technical assistance to EU Member States during the first cycle using the new format and system for reporting under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive – the national reports can be found on the European Environment Agency’s European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET) website;

    • To support the European Commission, European Environment Agency and European Topic Centre for Biological Diversity in the EU-wide analysis of the data arising from Article 12 reporting – the European Environment Agency’s technical report on the State of Nature in the EU: Reporting under the Birds and the Habitats Directives is available here

    The core outputs from the project are a set of online factsheets summarising the geographic distribution, population size and trend, habitat and ecology, major threats, conservation measures and regional (pan-European and EU) Red List status of each of the c. 530 wild bird species occurring naturally and regularly in Europe, which are available on the BirdLife International DataZone, plus a European Red List publication providing detailed discussion of the main results (BirdLife International 2015).

    A printed multi-species data inventory is not a contracted deliverable of the project, but BirdLife will apply additional (non-IUCN) criteria and classify Species of European Conservation Concern (SPECs) – as in the two previous editions of Birds in Europe – via a separate exercise in 2015.

    Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.