Europe and Central Asia
6 Oct 2015

The numbers are in for Euro Birdwatch 2015

Armenia was one of 41 countries from Europe and Central Asia that took part in Euro Birdwatch 2015. Photo: ASPB/BirdLife in Armenia
By Sanya Khetani-Shah

More than 32.000 adults and children took part in counting almost five million birds that migrated from Europe and Central Asia to the warmer south for the winter.

Euro Birdwatch 2015 was held on 3 and 4 October, 2015 in 41 countries. More than 1.000 local events – from bird ringing and hiking to environmental education workshops – were organised by BirdLife partners from Albania and Austria to Switzerland and Uzbekistan for experienced birders, scientists and the general public alike.

Euro Birdwatch was first organised in 1993, and since then, more than 1.1 million people have participated in over 36,000 events to count more than 60 million birds as they fly south for the winter.

Most countries had organised migration counts – either through a network of counting stations manned by experienced birdwatchers, or through field trips for members of the general public to Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The national data was forwarded to the European Centre (this year it was run by Vogelbescherming Nederland, or BirdLife in the Netherlands).

But Euro Birdwatch is not just about counting birds. In order to survive, migratory birds need not only good breeding conditions in the colder north, but also safe stopovers along the flyway (migratory path), and warmer temperatures and good habitat with plenty of food in their wintering areas in the south. So the goal of Euro Birdwatch is to raise awareness on bird migration by showing people its wonders and dangers and promote conservation actions needed to save migratory bird species and their habitats. A study by BirdLife International recently showed that every year, 25 million birds are being killed illegally in countries around the Mediterranean Sea during spring and autumn migration, so some BirdLife partners used Euro Birdwatch to bring this issue to the fore.

The Common StarlingEurasian Chaffinch and Common Coot were the most frequently observed species this year, but watchers in many countries also got a glimpse of rare birds. Among these were the first record of the Sardinian Warbler for Luxembourg, Red-throated Pipits in Austria and the Netherlands, Dusky Warbler in Finland and five Great Bustard in Turkey. Six Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing were also seen in Turkey, and no less than 2.200 in Uzbekistan!

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On the flip side, in some western European countries, the weather was actually ‘too good’ to observe bird migration with the naked eye. Easterly tail winds pushed many birds to fly higher and faster, which meant they could not be seen from the ground!

More information, downloads, results and photos of previous Euro Birdwatch events can be found here

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. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.