Birds are considered to be good indicators of the diversity and integrity of ecosystems, as they tend to be near the top of the food chain, are highly mobile and can move elsewhere when their environment becomes unsuitable. They are therefore responsive to changes in their local habitat. This is why the presence or absence of certain bird species tells us something about the development of the ecological condition of an ecosystem over time.
Between 1990 and 2014, the EU's population of all common bird species declined by 14 %, with a notable decrease (- 39 %) in common farmland bird species. The population index of common birds is an aggregated index of population estimates for a selected group of common bird species.
Many of the losses in populations of common farmland bird species can be attributed to changes in land use and agricultural practices, including the intensification of crop rotation patterns, making fallow land a rare occurrence, as well as the efficiency of pesticides in eradicating insects.
Source: EBCC / RSPB / BirdLife / Statistics Netherlands. The dataset is available on the Eurostat website
The information is provided on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity, celebrated every year on 22 May to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
For more information:
European Bird Census Council article on trends of common birds in Europe.
Eurostat Statistics Explained article on biodiversity statistics.
Eurostat News item on protected terrestrial area.