Atlas of the birds in Bulgaria


© Калин Ботев

The Atlas of the Birds in Bulgaria is the largest mapping of the biodiversity in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds has launched a partnership initiative for the preparation of its second edition – Birds Atlas II. Everyone with an interest in birds can take part in the research for its preparation. Here you will find information on how to contribute to the location of the present distribution of birds in Bulgaria.
Why do we make Birds Atlas II?
The preparation of the birds’ distribution atlases mobilizes and motivates a large number of people to gather data, to enhance their bird identification skills and their knowledge of the birds’ biology and ecology, as well as to travel and explore new places. Collecting the data according to a standardised methodology allows statistical processing, replication of the study and comparability of results. This is the huge advantage over random observations, because it is difficult to extract significant data from them, in order to determine abundance, population size, trends and to detect long-term changes. The atlases for the distribution of species are an important tool for planning bird conservation measures. The data collected for the first Bulgarian atlas – the Atlas of Breeding Birds in Bulgaria (Iankov, 2007), served as a basis for a number of conservation activities, including the establishing of the Natura 2000 network. Participating in the preparation of the Atlas can be a very exciting initiative to activate your research instinct to solve some ornithological riddles, such as finding out if interesting species such as the Eleonora’s Falcon, the Collared Flycatcher, the Willow Warbler and the Bonelli’s Eagle. The second atlas shall be the first attempt to fully map the wintering birds in our country. This shall make Bulgaria one of the few countries with a winter bird atlas.
Ciconia nigra Georgi Gerdzhikov Copyright
What are the goals of Birds Atlas II?
With the preparation of The Atlas of Birds in Bulgaria II we set the following goals:

  1. Establishing the present distribution of the breeding bird species in Bulgaria based on 10 × 10 km (UTM – MGRS) grid.
  2. Establishing the present distribution of the wintering bird species in Bulgaria based on 10 × 10 km (UTM – MGRS) grid.
  3. Finding the changes in the distribution and abundance of the nesting birds in Bulgaria in comparison with the Atlas of Breeding Birds in Bulgaria (Yankov, 2007).
  4. Estimation of the number of the populations of the breeding and wintering birds in Bulgaria.
  5. Gathering data according to a unified methodology, allowing tracking of long-term changes in the distribution and abundance of breeding and wintering birds when repeating the study in the future.
  6. Displaying the distribution of the largest possible number of species based on a grid 1 × 1 km.
  7. Increasing the knowledge of Bulgarian bird lovers and attracting new ones.
Neli Doncheva Copyright
Who can participate?
Everyone is welcome and can contribute to the preparation of the Atlas, whether you are a novice or an experienced ornithologist. Even learners can contribute to the compilation of the Atlas by entering data the species they know and the degree of probability of breeding in the SmartBirds Pro mobile application. Good skills in identifying birds by their sounds are needed to use some of the methods, especially the method for studying bird abundance. Knowing the bird songs will help to find more species in the squares you are exploring. We hope that working on the Atlas will be an additional incentive to increase bird recognition skills. If you are not confident in your skills and you are hesitating how to participate, we recommend that you talk to one of the coordinators of the initiative.
How to participate?
The easiest way is to register in and download the SmartBirds Pro mobile application on your phone or tablet. Click here for the video guidelines for registration and how to use the system.

The SmartBirds Pro app uses Android operating system and can be downloaded here. With the app you can record on your phone any observations on birds you know and enter in the database. Video guidelines for working with the application “SmartBirds Pro” can be found here.

We recommend that you select one or more 10-kilometer squares in which to register all bird species and apply survey methods. The selection of a 10-kilometer square for research is done in your personal profile on the site. Each 10-kilometer square is selected in the Atlas section, which after synchronization with the mobile application is visible in the SmartBirds Pro mobile application on your device. Click here for the video guidelines for mapping breeding birds.

SmartBirds logo
Data collection and processing
Each participant can initially choose up to 10 squares to map. To facilitate the planning and progress tracking, for each square, in your profile in the, you will be able to see a list of species registered in the respective square in the first Atlas of Breeding Birds and a complete list of species, including those registered in the same square by other observers. Participants can also gather data in additional squares not selected by them. The authorship of all entered data is saved in the profile of the observer at

The main part of the data shall be collected during fieldwork with the mobile application SmartBirds Pro. Data collected in a different way can also be integrated and used if it has all the required elements. However, with other applications, it is not possible to apply the methods for the study of bird abundance, which require selection of test sites through a personal account in Data collected in the framework of existing monitoring schemes (MOVP, Mid-Winter Census), projects for places and species, as well as data from scientific publications shall also be used.

The collected data shall be verified by experts on the species and groups of species. At regional level, verification of the data and support to the participants shall be provided by experts who know the respective regions well.

The atlas is based on the territorial overlapping of the surveys during the winter and the breeding season, and the preparation of one atlas, instead of two separate ones – for breeding and for wintering birds. Participants in the mapping shall be able to select squares to explore almost all year round, applying different methods. However, the Atlas shall have two sections and methods: for breeding and for wintering birds.

The atlas combines a relatively simple method for determining the relative abundance of widespread species with species-specific method based on habitats and knowledge of the ecology and breeding biology of the species. The latter are good for determining the distribution of species with larger breeding areas and those with a secretive way of life. For these species, the study of the distribution and the discovery of new localities is a top priority. The proposed methods can, to a large extent, be used for monitoring, so that the collected information can serve as a basis for long-term monitoring of more groups of birds.

At present, we plan to use data collected in the period 2016-2025. This period may change, given the public nature of the initiative and the participation of volunteers. Providing additional funding can allow faster and better coverage of all squares. The ambition is to collect enough new data on the distribution and number of birds in all ten-kilometre squares for the period 2021-2025.

Rila Neli Doncheva Copyright
The preparation of the Birds Atlas requires a systematic approach and compliance with certain methods. From the links below you can download detailed information on how to study breeding and wintering birds for the purposes of the Atlas:

Методика за проучване на гнездящите птици за целите на Атласа на птиците в България
Методика за проучване на зимуващите птици за целите на Атласа на птиците в България

Rila Neli Doncheva Copyright
Species’ info


Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
This message is only visible to admins.
Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Error: No posts available for this Facebook ID

Join us on Facebook



Partners of the BSPB in the preparation of the Atlas of Birds in Bulgaria are the following organisations:

Национален природонаучен музей - БАН

University of Shumen

Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna

The Atlas is being made in collaboration with the European Bird Census Council (EBCC)
This site and the module “Birds Atlas” in the SmartBirds system were created within the project “Citizens Science for the Benefit of Local Communities and Nature” with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for the content of the document lies with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this document reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria Operator.

Donate for the preparation of Atlas II

Help find new localities of rare species in remote areas