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.

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).

In 1994 BirdLife International published the landmark Birds in Europe: their Conservation Status - the first ever review of the conservation status of all regularly occurring European birds. Setting a new standard for conservation data, Birds in Europe (1994) was highly praised for the depth and breadth of its research. Monitoring programmes established since then have provided an even higher accuracy and quality of data for Birds in Europe II (2004). The third assessment has just been submitted for publication in the peer-reviewed literature,  the results will be available in the second half of 2017. 

On 20 May 2017, BirdLife International will release the publication European birds of conservation concern: populations, trends and national responsibilities. This publication summarises the conservation status of 541 wild bird species in 50 European countries and territories (based on the 2016 IUCN Global Red List and taxonomic update), and aims to help national governments to easily identify the species that are in urgent need of attention and protection. 


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.