Database of Western Palearctic birds migrating within Africa to guide conservation decisions

Principal Investigators: Bruno Walther and Carsten Rahbek

The conservation of migratory bird species poses special problems associated with their annual movements which often span continents because species survival is dependent on the conservation of not only breeding grounds, but also stop-over sites and wintering grounds. For the over 300 species breeding in the Western Palearctic region which migrate to their African wintering grounds (see species list), we know their breeding grounds and principal migration routes through Europe and the Mediterranean quite well, but knowledge concerning the distribution of these migrants in Africa is still fragmentary (Walther & Rahbek 2002). However, such information is essential for the successful conservation of Palearctic migratory birds which are essentially African and European birds.

Therefore, this research project provides a database on the geographical distribution of Western Palearctic migratory birds in Africa. The information in this database will hopefully enhance our understanding of the whereabouts of migrants in Africa as well as to guide conservation decisions.

The data is a collection of various published and unpublished sources (e.g. museum specimens, grey literature, personal communications, etc.). The user can search the database as well as enter new data into the database. All point-locality data are geo-referenced with decimal coordinates, so that they can be easily displayed with any GIS software (e.g. ArcInfo, Idrisi, DIVA, etc.).

A request for data

The completeness and quality of the database will depend on the information we can obtain from the international ornithological community. Thus, we hope to attract possible collaborators, who may be anybody having some experience in working with birds in Africa. This project will only be feasible if a large number of colleagues are willing to share relevant data with us. We will also be thankful for any assistance with hard-to-find references, unpublished reports, contacts or any other information that might help with this project. This webpage allows the user to enter such data.

Research results

So far, we have focused our attention primarily on the migration of songbirds (passerines) and especially those songbirds that are threatened according to the BirdLife International criteria. 

Further research results:

Other data sources

Below are links to other data sources with information on bird distributions of migratory birds:


Professor Carsten Rahbek