11 Apr 2019

This map lets you track bird migration in real time

With Euro Bird Portal’s LIVE viewer, you can look at weekly animated maps showing where birds have been sighted in real time

By Margaret Sessa-Hawkins

Springtime. Flowers are blooming, temperatures are rising, and all over the world, birds are migrating. But where are they going? Where have they been? Where do the birds we regularly see in our backyards travel?

Now, a new tool allows individuals to see this data in real time. With Euro Bird Portal’s LIVE viewer, individuals can look at weekly animated maps dating back to January 2010 up to the present, that show where birds have been sighted in real time.

“Bird movements have always fascinated people,” says Gabriel Gargallo, EBP project coordinator. “Where are the swallows now? Can I expect to hear my first cuckoo soon? With the LIVE EBP viewer, we are very happy to be able to show bird movements across the continent, freely accessible to anyone and in near real time.”

The maps are the result of an automatic data-flow system that connects data from 15 different online bird recording systems which collectively cover 98 percent of Europe. Together, the portals see roughly 120,000 new bird records per day, leading to an enormous amount of data that lets users see where birds are at any given moment. The compilation of the data was made possible by a grant from EU LIFE.

Uniting data from the portals is a great step for conservation, as previously the data gathered by the portals has been very scattered. With this information, both scientists and individuals can gain a greater understanding of bird distribution and movements. This in turn contributes to a greater understanding for conservation management issues such as where to place (or where not to place) wind farms.

Launched in 2015, the Euro Bird Portal aims to compile species maps from all over Europe. The portal offers nine different types of maps including climatic variables. The maps can also be seen side-by-side, allowing users access to more than 50 million map combinations. The maps can be accessed at Euro Bird Portal’s Website.