Countryside Bird Survey (CBS)

monitoring Ireland's breeding countryside birds

Each summer over 200 skilled volunteers, NPWS Rangers and BirdWatch Ireland staff survey breeding birds across the Irish countryside. The Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) is coordinated by BirdWatch Ireland and funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

What’s involved?

During the breeding season, CBS counters record all birds seen and heard during two early morning walks in pre-assigned 1km grid squares. Two visits are made to the site – one in early summer (April to mid-May) and the second about 4 weeks later (mid-May to end June). As many birds are detected first by sound (and often not seen) it is helpful to be able to identify birds by song and call as well as sight. Survey squares occur in a broad range of habitats across every county, from upland blanket bog to lowland farmland and woodland.

Why do we count breeding countryside birds?

CBS has served to show that populations of our common and widespread birds are continually changing. While most species are quite stable, some such as Goldfinch and Blackcap have increased substantially over the last 20 years. Some species such as Stonechat and Grey Wagtail have been shown to be prone to big fluctuations, especially after severe winters, while others including Kestrel, Skylark and Stock Dove are showing worrying declines. Such declines can be noted anecdotally, however this survey aims to detect and quantify such changes using robust, scientific but user-friendly methods. Over time, reasons for decline may be identified and there will be opportunities to provide advice to help reverse such trends.

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Species Trends

Population trends of countryside birds monitored through CBS.

Square Summaries

Summary count data for grid squares monitored through CBS.

CBS and Countryside Bird News

Wheatear-on-a-rock CBSMigrationSurveys
March 29, 2019

Early migrants add spice to first CBS visits

Dick Coombes, coordinator of the Countryside Bird Survey (CBS), describes the sites and sounds of the Irish countryside in spring: "One of the joys of carrying out your first CBS…
Blue-Tit-on-a-branch CBSSurveysSurveys and Monitoring
March 29, 2019

CBS kicks off its 22nd season!

BirdWatch Ireland's Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) is starting again for another year, monitoring common and widespread breeding birds across the Irish countryside. From the survey coordinator, Dick Coombes:"The 1st April…

Latest CBS Publications

CBS News 2019

Newsletter of the Countryside Bird Survey – Issue No. 18 (March 2019)

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Countryside Bird Survey Report 1998-2016

Report on the results of the Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) from 1998 to 2016.

CBS Counter Manual

Counter manual detailing the methodology for taking part in the Countryside Bird Survey (CBS).

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