Bureau Waardenburg
Varkensmarkt 9
4101 CK Culemborg
the Netherlands
T: +31 (0) 345 512710
email buwa

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Breeding Bird Surveys

Why survey breeding birds?

Breeding birds can provide an indication of the effectiveness of management regimes. This allows land managers to understand whether management is having the desired results. Changes over time can be mapped and estimates of local breeding populations made.


In the Netherlands, we carry out breeding bird surveys using an extensive territorial mapping method. This involves a number to visits to an area during which all birds and their territorial or breeding behaviour is mapped. After each visit the maps can be compared and territories and potential breeding pairs identified. Data are collected and interpreted according to SOVON guidelines and the results can be used to in creating various distribution maps. This method is recognised across the Netherlands as well as elsewhere and enables the comparison of results across years and between areas.

In general, breeding bird surveys in the Netherlands are carried out between mid-March and mid-June, depending on the type of habitat and the species involved. Visits are undertaken when the birds are most active, which is typically early in the morning and can even be before sunrise. Visits are aimed at those species of most relevance, for example early in the season crows, herons and other early-nesting species are the focus, while later in the season the focus is more towards migrant and later-breeding species (such as hobby and honey buzzard). For nocturnal species additional visits can be planned for dusk, when these species are active. In a few cases play-back of recordings can be used to detect the presence of certain nocturnal species, however, this method is used carefully to ensure the integrity of the results.

Following the surveys we report on which species are present and focus in particular on those species that are rare or of conservation priority. We also detail those species which may have been missed or under estimated.