Atlas of breeding birds of European Russia

Atlas of breeding birds of European Russia

The joint project of BirdsRussia, Zoological Museum Lomonosov Moscow State University, and European Bird Census Council.

The aim of the Project is collation of information about the present distribution of birds in European Russia in the breeding season in the period between 2005 and 2017 and publication of the Atlas with distribution maps for about 400 bird species nesting within this territory.

Tasks of the Project:

— the most complete survey of the territory of European Russia divided into approximately 1800 50 x 50 km squares;

— collecting data on species composition of nesting birds in every square;

— determination of the nesting status and abundance of species;

— compilation of distribution maps with the status and abundance of the species indicated for each square;

— amendment of boundaries of all bird species nesting in the region, including rare species and species listed in the federal and regional Red Data Books.

— One of the principal tasks of the Project is involvement of the largest number of experts, including the staff of specially protected natural territories (nature reserves, refuges, and national parks).

Data collected for the Russian Atlas will be included in the second European Atlas of Breeding Birds (European Breeding Bird Atlas 2). The first bird atlas in Europe was compiled in Great Britain in the mid-20th century. European Bird Census Council

(EBCC) managed to involve virtually all countries of the region, Russia among them, in activities which resulted in publication of the first Atlas of European Breeding Birds in 1997. However, due to certain reasons many parts of Russian territory remained terra incognita. EBCC plans to publish the 2nd European Breeding Bird Atlas in 2020. It is contemplated to be more detailed than the first one, to contain the elements of statistical modeling of the ranges for poorly surveyed areas, and encompass the entire territory of Eastern European countries. In addition, changes in distribution and abundance of birds and their trends over the past 20-30 years will be reflected. Experience has shown that information about the status, distribution, and abundance of European birds is actively used by the experts for analysis of the state of fauna in certain regions and conservation of birds. It is evident that the second Atlas will be even more highly sought.

Since 2010, Russia has been taking part in compilation of the 2nd European Breeding Bird Atlas and plans to prepare the Atlas of breeding birds of the European part of the country. More than 230 ornithologists representing various research institutes, NGOs, nature reserves, and national parks have contributed to implementation of the Project. It was supported also by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. Participants of the Project survey the squares and report on the results in accordance with methodological standards of data provision. All information is entered into the Project database and used for compilation of the distribution maps.

By the autumn of 2017, a little over 1,200 squares were examined with varying degrees of completeness. Almost for a thousand of squares full data obtained including species list with nesting status and population densities estimation. For other squares only nesting status lists without quantities or those of only certain groups were obtained.

In one field season of 2017 alone many dozens of squares were examined. In certain administrative regions all gray areas are closed. While collecting data on avifauna, online bird registration platform ( is very helpful. This program was developed and presented by I.I. Ukolov, a participant of the Programme.

Over 300 ornithologists from different scientific and public organizations, nature reserves and national parks are involved in the Atlas development.

Project management implies constant contacts with its participants, explaining them the standard methodology of data provision, coordination of allocation of the survey areas, discussing prospects for financing, and correcting reports. All participants of the Project receive monthly report including the map of the European Russia with the number of surveyed squares and indicated rate of survey of each of them, the list of active contributors, and acknowledgements to sponsors and assistants. Information is updated every month on the Zoological Museum website. Constant fundraising activities are performed, the finances allotted for the field surveys are distributed among the participants, and financial accounts processed. Electronic periodical “Fauna and population of birds of the European Russia” is issued annually. It contains up-to-date information about the project implementation, it contributors and sponsors, as well as reports on surveys by squares as a basis for prospective compilation of the species distribution maps. Due to public presentation of the raw data, inaccurate results can be corrected, assessments of abundance adjusted, the lists of species amended, and the nesting status ascertained by the experts in bird faunas of particular regions.

Since the end of 2013 electronic edition “Fauna and bird population of European Russia” is published twice a year. The issue contains data on the Project progress, participants and sponsors, and reports on every single square observation, the latter being used as the basis for following Atlas maps compilation. By autumn 2017, 8 issues were published; the ninth awaiting in December 2017.

One of the parts of the Project is modeling of the ranges. In the European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 distribution of each species will be illustrated not only by the grid maps derived from results of surveys, but also by maps based on statistical modeling. Coordinators of the Project performed a few sample surveys to adjust the procedure proposed by the colleagues from Catalonia, which allowed making certain improvements and amendments. Later on, data obtained from such surveys were provided by the ornithologists involved in the implementation of the Project. They were processed and forwarded to the Catalan Institute of Ornithology (Barcelona).

Pre-selected sampling on 15 model species were presented the European Atlas project coordinators, who composed pilot distribution maps which can be found on the EBCC site (

Data collection is mostly finished by 2017. The Atlas release is planned for 2020.

Information about the progress with the relevant activities in Russia is regularly updated on the websites of BirdsRussia, European Bird Census Council and on Facebook page devoted to the project of compilation of European Breeding Bird Atlas 2.

The Project is headed by Kalyakin Michail Vladimirovich (kalyakin @ and Voltzit Olga Viktorovna (voltzit @

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