Skip to main content
Log in

Wordbirds: Developing a Web-based Data Collection System for the Global Monitoring of Bird Distribution and Abundance

  • Published:
Biodiversity & Conservation Aims and scope Submit manuscript

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 January 2006


There is an urgent need to develop simple and effective methods for monitoring bird populations that are cheap to deploy in resource-poor countries. This paper describes a newly developed system, provisionally referred to as, Wordbirds, that will provide a platform for the collection, storage and retrieval of new and existing data from bird observations recorded worldwide. This Internet-based global network of databases will capture field lists and ad hoc sightings routinely gathered by individuals observing birds recreationally and professionally. Huge numbers of lists are collected annually and could provide information on population trends spanning many years. By collecting these records, a valuable resource will be secured with the potential to map and monitor bird distributions and estimate trends in species abundance.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • A. Balmford R.E. Green M. Jenkins (2003) ArticleTitleMeasuring the changing state of nature Trends Ecol. Evol. 18 326–330

    Google Scholar 

  • J. Bart S.P. Klosiewski (1989) ArticleTitleUse of presence-absence to measure changes in avian density J. Wildlife Manage. 53 847–852

    Google Scholar 

  • L. Bennun P. Matiku R. Mulwa S. Mwangi P. Buckley (2005) ArticleTitleMonitoring important bird areas in africa: towards a sustainable and scaleable system Biodivers. Conserv. 14 2575–2590 Occurrence Handle10.1007/s10531-005-8389-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • C.J. Bibby N.D. Burgess D.A. Hill S. Mustoe (2000) Bird Census Techniques, 2nd edn Academic Press London, UK

    Google Scholar 

  • InstitutionalAuthorNameBirdLife International (2004) Threatened Birds of the World 2004. CD-ROM BirdLife International CambridgeUK

    Google Scholar 

  • M. Blakers S.J.J.F. Davies P.N. Reilly (1984) The Atlas of Australian Birds Melbourne University Press Carlton, Victoria, Australia

    Google Scholar 

  • D.E. Chamberlain S. Gough J.A. Vickery L.G. Firbank S. Petit R. Pywell R.B. Bradbury (2004) ArticleTitleRule-based predictive models are not cost-effective alternatives to bird monitoring on farmland Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 101 1–8 Occurrence Handle10.1016/S0167-8809(03)00277-9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cyr A. and Larivée J. 1993. A checklist approach for monitoring neotropical migrant birds: Twenty-year trends in Birds of Québec using ÉPOQ. In: Finch D.M. and Stangel P.W. (eds) Status and management of Neotropical migratory birds. U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report. RM-229, pp. 229--236.

  • F. Danielsen N. Burgess A. Balmford (2005) ArticleTitleMonitoring matters: examining the potential of locally-based approaches Biodivers. Conserv. 14 2507–2542

    Google Scholar 

  • P.F. Donald R.J. Fuller (1998) ArticleTitleOrnithological atlas data: a review of uses and limitations Bird Study 45 129–145

    Google Scholar 

  • K.J. Gaston (1996) Species richness: measure and measurement K.J. Gaston (Eds) Biodiversity: A Biology of Numbers and Difference Blackwell Science Oxford, UK 77–113

    Google Scholar 

  • D.W. Gibbons J.B. Reid R.A. Chapman (1993) The new atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland: 1988–1991 T. & A.D. Poyser London, UK

    Google Scholar 

  • J.A. Harrison D.G. Allan L.G. Underhill M. Herremans A.J. Tree V. Parker C.J. Brown (1997) The Atlas of South African birds Birdlife South Africa Johannesburg, South Africa

    Google Scholar 

  • A.C. Kemp J.J. Herholdt I. Whyte J. Harrison (2001) ArticleTitleBirds of the two largest national parks in South Africa: a method to generate estimates of population size and assess their conservation ecology S. Afr. J. Sci. 97 393–400

    Google Scholar 

  • J.H. Lawton (1996) ArticleTitlePopulation abundances, geographic ranges and conservation: 1994 Witherby Lecture Bird Study 43 3–19

    Google Scholar 

  • J. MacKinnon K. Phillipps (2000) A field guide to the birds of China Oxford University Oxford, UK

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts R.L.Donald P.F. and Green R.E. In prep. Using simple species lists to monitor long-term trends in bird populations new methods and a test of independent data.

  • C.G. Sibley B.L. Monroe (1990, 1993) Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World Yale University Press New Haven, USA and London, UK

    Google Scholar 

  • M.G. Telfer C.D. Preston P. Rothery (2002) ArticleTitleA general method for measuring relative change in range size from biological atlas data Biol. Conserv. 107 99–109 Occurrence Handle10.1016/S0006-3207(02)00050-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Temple S.A. and Cary J.R. 1990. Using checklist records to reveal trends in bird populations. In: Sauer J.R. and Droege S. (eds) Survey designs and statistical methods for the estimation of avian populations trends. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 90: 98--104.

  • U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation. U.S. Department of the Interior.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rachel L. Roberts.

Additional information

An erratum to this article is available at

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Roberts, R., Donald, P. & Fisher, I. Wordbirds: Developing a Web-based Data Collection System for the Global Monitoring of Bird Distribution and Abundance. Biodivers Conserv 14, 2807–2820 (2005).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: