Type of indicator


Indicator C35

Farmland birds index (FBI)

Definition (Exact definition in bold, description of the measurement/calculation, sub-indicators in bold if relevant).

The farmland bird indicator is intended as proxy to assess the biodiversity status of agricultural landscapes in Europe. Birds are high in the food chain and therefore are considered good indicators for the overall state of biodiversity.

The indicator is composite index that measures the rate of change in the relative abundance of common bird species at selected sites.

These species, chosen from a list of selected common species at EU level (the so-called "EU list of species" currently cover 39 species[1]), are dependent on farmland for feeding and nesting and are not able to thrive in other habitats. The species on the list constitute a maximum, from which the countries select the species relevant to them. However, Member States can select their own species set, ideally following guidelines from the European Bird Census Council (EBCC). No rare species are included in EU species selection. Population trends are derived from the counts of individual bird species at census sites and modeled as such through time.

The population counts are carried out by a network of volunteer ornithologists coordinated within national schemes. Indices are first calculated for each species independently at the national level by producing a national population index per species. Then, to produce the EU aggregate, the national species indices are combined into supranational ones. To do this, they are weighted by estimates of national population sizes. Weighting allows for the fact that different countries hold different proportions of the European population of each species. In a third step, the supranational indices for each species are then combined on a geometric scale to create a multi-species aggregate index at European level. For more detailed information on the methodology used, species, etc. please refer to the EBCC website http://www.ebcc.info/ and the Eurostat indicator metadata.

The index is calculated with reference to a base year, when the index value is set at 100%. Trend values express the overall population change over a period of years.  (In Eurostat's database, data are presented with four different bases: 1990, 2000, the latest year available and the national base year). Data going back to the 1980s however exist and are available at the EBCC website.

The indicator already exists: 

  1. Agro-environmental indicator (AEI) 25: Population trends of farmland birds;
  2. Sustainable development indicators (SDI) – Biodiversity: Common Birds Index (Eurostat).
  3. SEBI indicator 01: abundance and distribution of selected species, which includes common farmland bird index (Pan-European Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators (SEBI) initiative, European Environment Agency (EEA), Directorate-General Environment (DG ENV), etc.)

Unit of measurement

Index - (base year 2000 = 100)

Data source

EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands: the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) and its Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS), http://www.ebcc.info/pecbm.html .

Data are transmitted to Eurostat and published in the statistics database: Environment/Biodiversity. Eurostat does not receive any of these data directly from the Member States. 

National indices are compiled by each country using common software and methodology. The supranational indices are compiled by the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring scheme (PECBM), a joint project of the European Bird Census Council, the Royal Society for the protection of Birds, BirdLife International, and Statistics Netherlands. 

References/location of the data

Eurostat, Environment statistics, Biodiversity: 

Table [env_bio2]: national farmland bird index.

Table [env_bio3]: EU farmland bird index (EU28 and EU27_2020).

Data collection level


EU level aggregation 


Annual (In principle, these data are updated on a yearly basis at national and EU level. Ability to provide updates of indicators at national level depends on the capacity of the national data providers).

Data availability 2019: 2017 national data Common farmland bird index, EU aggregates Common farmland species 2016.


For a small number of Member States data are available from 1980 and cover different periods depending on data availability in each Member State. 


2-3 years



The relation between agricultural activities and farmland bird populations should be interpreted very cautiously. There is abundant literature on the impact of agricultural activities on farmland birds, but there are many other factors affecting the status of their populations, and the relative importance of these factors along time is not well understood.


Comparability between Member States is possible since the index gives a measure of the rate of change in the abundance of common bird species. Species may differ in each Member State because their relevance changes in different agricultural habitats and their geographical distribution is not pan-European. Northern countries generally have fewer species than southern ones. 

The index can be estimated at national and EU level. Downscaling at regional (NUTS 2) level is currently not possible. The main limiting factor is the insufficient number and spatial heterogeneity of sampling units.


In Eurostat’s database, data are presented with four different bases: 1990, 2000, the latest year available and the national base year. 

[1] 2014 update