Category Archives: How to contribute in a foreign country

How to contribute with my data from a foreign country

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Going for birdwatching abroad? Then you can potentially contribute with your data to the European Breeding Bird Atlas! Any reliable information is extremely valuable, including information from holidays, birdwatching trips or other opportunities to watch and record birds during their breeding seasons 2014-2017. Here we present guidelines on how to do it.


1. Where
2. Data required
3. When
4. Data delivery
5. Useful tips and suggestions


Many countries in eastern and south-eastern parts of Europe have the biggest difficulties to find enough local fieldworkers and foreign birdwatchers are particularly welcome there. Please see the list of priority countries and their national coordinators below.  By clicking on a country name it will open it in google map with the corresponding grid of that country. For detailed description on methodology and data collection within individual countries, national coordinators are the best place source of information.


You can now join our new challenge to help us fill the gaps in priority areas!


You can also check our Gap tool which visualizes where mapping efforts can directly be oriented within priority countries. Just select a country from the menu. There are 4 categories marked with different colours and by clicking on each square you will see the description of each category (in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is recommended to contact the national coordinator for all squares, due to the problem with minefields).

You can also download the European and national grids.

Country Contact
Albania Taulant Bino,
Armenia Karen Aghababyan,
Azerbaijan Elchin Sultanov,,
Belarus Anastasiya Kuzmiankova,
Bosnia & Herzegovina Dražen Kotrošan,

Jovica Sjeničić,

Bulgaria Stoycho Stoychev,
Croatia Vlatka Dumbović Mazal,
Cyprus Christina Ieronymidou,
Georgia Guille Mayor,

Alexander Abuladze,

Greece Danae Portolou,
Kazakhstan (European part) Askar Isabekov,
Kosovo Qenan Maxhuni,
Macedonia Metodija Velevski,
Moldova Silvia Ursul,

Vitalie Ajder,

Montenegro Mihailo Jovićević,

Darko Saveljić,

Romania Zoltan Szabo,
Russia (European part)

Mikhail Kalyakin,

Olga Voltzit,

Spain Juan Carlos del Moral,

Blas Molina,

Serbia Dimitrije Radišić,
Turkey Kerem Ali Boyla,
Ukraine Igor Gorban,, Olga Yaremchenko,

Data required

Coordinators of national atlases/EBBA2 national contacts are the best placed to provide details of data required and their format. We encourage anybody interested to contribute to contact national coordinators. Nevertheless, simple data requirements, based on EBBA2 methodology apply to any country. In principle, data collected for the atlas, can come from

  1. non-standardised surveys (opportunistic data) or
  2. standardised surveys (data collected with standardised effort and methodology).

Both approaches will contribute to the production of European distribution maps (in a grid 50×50 km), the latter will be also used for modelling the distribution in Europe at a scale of 10×10 km. For details see the EBBA2 methodology.

1. Non-standardised survey (opportunistic data).
Minimum requirements on the data are very simple:

  1. Species must be properly determined.
  2. Any observation must include:
  • Date/s of observation (one day or a few consecutive days)
  • Geographic location (see below for details)
  • Site name (name of a town, village, mountain etc)
  • Species recorded
  • Atlas code (see below for explanation)
  • Name of observer(s) and contact (e-mail)
  • Indicate whether you recorded all species detected or just a selection of species (optional)
  • Time (optional)
  • Duration of the observation (optional)
  • Number of individuals observed (optional)
  • Any further details (optional)

Geographic location and type of information:

There are different possibilities to contribute:

  • Provide a species list for a 50×50 km square.
  • Provide a species list for a particular location, defined as square (e.g. 10×10 km or 1×1 km), polygon, route or point.
  • Provide the precise location of each observation.

2. Standardised survey (timed visits)
The aim is to obtain complete lists of species with controlled effort. The data will be used for modelling species’ distribution at 10×10 km scale across Europe. Details of the standardised surveys can differ from country to country, thus, in case you are interested in this type of fieldwork, we recommend to contact national coordinators and ask for detailed instructions. European coordinators may also act as contacts and provide square grids when necessary.

However, if you cannot fully contribute to standardised surveys for a particular country (e.g. if two visits are required but you are only staying for a short time) you can still contribute to the standard survey of the European atlas. All you have to do is to report a complete list of species during a timed visit of 1-2 hours following a walked route (not staying in the same place). Timed visits should be done during the time of day birds are most active, i.e. usually early morning. Thus, the data requirements are:

  1. Species must be properly determined. Caution:– making complete species list requires very good knowledge and determination skills. During a complete list the observer must focus on finding and identifying all the bird species during the submitted time. Avoid reporting a complete list if other activities are done at the same time or the observer is not focussing all his efforts to finding and identifying birds.
  2. A report on an observation of a species must include (information indicated as optional is preferred as it will significantly increase the value of the records):
  • Date of observation
  • Site name (name of a town, village, mountain etc) as precisely as possible
  • Geographic location: 10×10 or 1×1 square, route or area covered (e.g. in BirdTrack), or geographical coordinates (GPS) of the centre of the surveyed area.
  • Species recorded
  • Atlas code (see below for explanation)
  • Time (beginning and end)
  • Name of observer(s) and contact (e-mail)
  • Number of recorded individuals (optional)
  • Any further details (optional)

Both approaches can be easily combined. For instance, you can start with a timed visit early in the morning, and can spend the rest of the day visiting different habitats searching for other species.



Species list for 50×50 km square with highest atlas code, provided on an Excel sheet (see under Data Delivery).



Species list for a defined polygon in the example of BirdTrack


Precise location in the example of the ornitho app


Location in the example of



Breeding season, i.e. spring from c. second half of April to end of June. Caution: the breeding season depends on latitude and altitude, climatic conditions etc. If you are not sure, please check the timing with the coordinators.
Data from years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 are desirable. In case you have data slightly older, e.g. from 2012 or 2011, such data may be also useful, especially in countries with lack of data. Please consult it with European coordinators.

Data delivery

The data can be delivered in a simple format (e.g. Excel spreadsheet) containing the required information (see above for data requirements for standardised and non-standardised surveys). We prefer that data are delivered to national coordinators, who are best placed to validate them before submitting them to the European coordinators. Direct delivery to the European coordinators is also possible. In such cases, we will always check the data with the national coordinators, and we will provide them with the data from their countries.

Download an Excel table for non-standardised data provision.

Download an Excel table for standardised data.

Online recording

Some countries use an on-line recording portal, where your observations could be easily entered and thus become available to the national coordinator. Using the national portals is recommended where possible. However, if you have difficulties using the national portal (e.g. for language reasons) we recommend to use the following portals with international coverage:

  • BirdTrack: this portal has been developed by the British Trust for Ornithology. The global entry tool allows to enter data anywhere in the world. It has been adapted to the purposes of EBBA2.
  • Ornitho portals: for all of the portals belonging to the ´Ornitho´ family an application for Andrioid mobile phones, called NaturaList, has been developed that allows entering data from across Europe. It has special features for collecting atlas data.
  • This global and multi-taxa on-line portal and its associated application for mobile phones allow entering bird observations across the world. It has been adapted for the purposes of EBBA2.
  • eBird: this global portal has been developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Its global site allows to enter data anywhere in the world, and there are also three national portals (Portugal, Turkey and Spain). There is an app for iOs and Android to upload sightings. Its focus on complete lists and the use of breeding codes make it appropriate for EBBA2

If you use BirdTrack, the Ornitho app,, or eBird data will be passed on to national coordinators and to the central EBBA2 coordination. Make sure that you tick the appropriate boxes when you subscribe to a scheme to allow data transfer.

Useful tips and suggestions

  • What should be avoided: making day lists containing information for very different sites, in particular when you have been covering large distances between sites.
  • Any casual record will be valuable. However, we encourage ornithologists to try to record complete lists of observed species at a given site in timed visits as described above.
  • If a species is very common you don’t have to record every single observation but make sure that you note it if you come to a new square.
  • For rare or localised species it is useful to record all observations. This can help national coordinators for conservation purposes beyond the atlas.
  • Any data from any surveyed site will be valuable, but visiting several sites with different habitats may improve the atlas coverage a lot.
  • Do not only visit birding hotspots. Data from less visited regions and “unattractive” habitats are equally important.
  • Write all your observations down while you are out in the field.
  • Document your fieldwork, take pictures, videos and share your experience with others.
  • Consult the national coordinators for safety instructions and guidance.
  • Respect national legislation and local cultural specifics.


European coordinators:

Verena Keller,

Sergi Herrando,

Martí Franch,

Petr Voříšek,

Marina Kipson,

Further information available at

Appendix Atlas codes

Code Description

Non breeding
0 Species observed but suspected to be still on migration or to be summering non-breeder.

A. Possible breeding
1 Species observed in breeding season in possible nesting habitat
2 Singing male(s) present (or breeding calls heard) in breeding season

B. Probable breeding
3 Pair observed in suitable nesting habitat in breeding season
4 Permanent territory presumed through registration of territorial behaviour (song, etc.) on at least two different days a week or more apart at the same place
5 Courtship and display
6 Visiting probable nest site
7 Agitated behaviour or anxiety calls from adults
8 Brood patch on adult examined in the hand
9 Nest building or excavating nest-hole

C. Confirmed breeding
10 Distraction-display or injury-feigning
11 Used nest or eggshells found (occupied or laid within period of survey)
12 Recently fledged young (nidicolous species) or downy young (nidifugous species)
13 Adults entering or leaving nest-site in circumstances indicating occupied nest (including high nests or nest-holes, the contents of which can not be seen) or adult seen incubating
14 Adult carrying faecal sac or food for young
15 Nest containing eggs
16 Nest with young seen or heard