About us

The Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme project has commenced in January 2002 as a joint initiative of the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) and the BirdLife International. Since its beginning in 2002, the PECBMS project has been supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, the BirdLife International Partner in the UK). Since January 2006, the project had been funded by the European Commission as well. Other important partners are Statistics NetherlandsCzech Society for Ornithology (CSO, BirdLife International Partner in the Czech Republic), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Dutch Organisation for Field Ornithology (SOVON), L’Institut Català d’Ornitologia (ICO) and others.

Project goal

The main goal of the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) is to use common birds as indicators of the general state of nature using large-scale and long-term monitoring data on changes in breeding populations across Europe.

PECBMS aims are to:

  • collect data on European common bird species from national monitoring schemes and calculate European common bird indices and indicators
  • make European common bird indices and indicators available to the policy makers and promote then to public too
  • in cooperation with scietists, explore the forces driving changes in populations of common birds in Europe
  • assist to national monitoring scheme coordinators with various tasks related to monitoring methods or data calculation
  • create and keep active network of national monitoring scheme coordinators and other experts on monitoring cooperating with the PECBMS project

Why it is important to monitor common birds in Europe?

Birds are good indicators of health of the environment and can indicate its sustainability.

Monitoring is a critical requirement in assessing the environmental policy process and effectiveness of various conservation measures and is required under various international treaties, including EU directives.

Many patterns of land use and development are affected by EU policies and it is important to measure their sustainability across Europe, including their impact on the accession countries to the EU.

Common birds are good as indicators as they are widespread, relatively easy to identify and count, sensitive to land use and climate change, and are popular at the public. Photo of the Yellowhammer and the Blue Tit by Martin Pelánek (www.phototrip.cz).

How PECBMS works

PECBMS applies quite unique way of work – see the scheme below.

Project is coordinated by central coordination unit which communicates with national coordinators who run the monitoring schemes in their countries. However, counting birds in the field is performed by the volunteer counters in the countries.

PECBMS coordination unit is based at the Czech Society for Ornithology (CSO) in Prague, the Czech Republic. The unit collects national indices, produces European indices and indicators, prepares outputs for publication, communicates outputs to the public, policy makers and scientists.

Statistics Netherlands, represented by Arco van Strien, Tom van der Meij and Adriaan Gmeling Meiling, developed tools used by the PECBMS coordinators for data management and control, and a tool for calculation of supranational indices and trends. In the past they also provided assistance to the PECBMS coordinators with a computation procedure. They created the programmes used by coordinators for the computation of national indices and trends (TRIM and BirdSTATs), too.

Project Steering and Technical group oversees overall performance. The group has currently 6 members who work on voluntary basis: Richard Gregory (RSPB), Chris van Turnhout (SOVON), David Noble (British Trust for Ornithology), Iván Ramírez/Anna Staneva (Birdlife International), Zoltán Benkő (Romanian Ornithological Society) and Zdeněk Vermouzek (Czech Society for Ornithology).

Furthermore, other individuals and organisations from each country are involved in the PECBMS network. We aim each country has a representative in the PECBMS network. Currently, more than 350 individuals from more then 45 countries are on our contact list.

Birds are better known than most other taxa. There are masses of information available on common birds and for long-time series. Data are realistic and inexpensive to collect, analyse and report, and methods of survey and analysis are proven by long-lasting monitoring schemes. Photo of the Tree Sparrow by Michal Dobeš (www.michaldobes.com) photo of the Collared Dove by Martin Pelánek (www.phototrip.cz).

What data we use

PECBMS collects national data from already existing large-scale monitoring schemes in European countries which are based on fieldwork of volunteers and which have standardized methodology and formal design. The countries deliver national species indices and trends with standard errors instead of raw count data. The programme TRIM is standardly used for computation of national indices and trends.

More information on methods and national trends you can find in the Methods.

PECBMS outputs

Common bird species indices and trends

PECBMS combines national species indices in supra-national indices for individual species for Europe, EU and their regions (New and Old EU, and West, South, North and Central & East Europe). All indices are annually updated but only European species indices and trends are published – see the latest update.

Computation procedure is described in the Methods.

Common bird indicators (multi-species composite indices)

PECBMS produces indicators for Europe, EU and their regions (New and Old EU, and West, South, North and Central & East Europe). All indicators are annually updated and published – see the latest update.

More details on the indicators and species selection can be found in the Methods.

Use of our outputs

In policy and environmental protection

The PECBMS indicators has been accepted as the biodiversity indicators for EU´s Structural Indicator and Indicators of Sustainable Development of the EU. National versions of the Farmland bird indicators have been also approved as the indicators for a Regulation in EU´s Rural Development Plans (Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005).

The indicators have been used by other international institutions e. g. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), or European Environment Agency (EEA), and have been also included in Living Planet Index (LPI).

In science

The PECBMS results has been widely used in scientific research. The papers published cover various topics such as development of bird indicators in general, exploration of driving forces laying behind farmland or forest bird population trends, development of climate change indicator, investigation of the land-use change and its impact to farmland birds.

List of scientific papers which are based on the PECBMS data.

For any reason of data usage, we appreciate you always contact PECBMS project coordinator or manager with your request. Please, check the Data access & co-authorship policies.

Birds are very useful to raise awareness of biodiversity issues. They can, in some circumstances at least, faithfully reflect trends in other biodiversity. Photo of the Lapwing and the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker by Tomáš Bělka (www.birdphoto.cz).

Other activities

Consulting activities

We assist to our co-workers and others with establishing new national monitoring schemes or improving the existing schemes. We provide advice and assistance on various methodological issues, we advise how to manage the count data and how to analyse them.

PECBMS workshops

Regularly, once per three years we organize workshop where all national scheme coordinators and other co-workers meet, share experience and discuss future development of the project. The last PECBMS workshop was held during the 21st EBCC conference, called ‘Counting birds counts’ which took place in Évora, Portugal, 8-13 April 2019.

Participants of PECBMS workshop in November 2015 in Mikulov, the Czech republic. Photo by Vojtěch Brlík.


  • PECBMS common bird species indices, trends and indicators are regularly published on the EBCC website – see the latest species trends and indicators.
  • We regularly publish our results in brochures (in 2005, 2007, 2008), or in leaflets (in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018).
  • Valuable advice on how to plan a monitoring scheme can be found in the Best Practice Guide. This rather thin book has been written by a group of co-authors and can give various information and examples in several case studies useful for setting up a sustainable and well organised monitoring scheme.

Download our publications.

Future plans

  • increase species coverage and number of countries contributing with the data
  • produce habitat specific species trends
  • produce indicators for other habitat types (inland wetlands, boreal forest, urban habitat etc.)
  • continue in using our data in scientific research and explore driving forces laying behind the trends in particular habitats or sites
  • continue in helping countries to improve existing monitoring schemes and to set new ones in countries with no sustainable monitoring at all
  • enhance usage of our outputs in policy and nature protection

In future we strive for to add new species on our list and produce indices and trends for rarer species or species covered by dedicated special monitoring schemes such as raptors, wetland birds or night birds. Photo of the The Rough-legged Buzzard and the Dipper by Tomáš Bělka (www.birdphoto.cz).