Monitoring programme: Biodiversity - Birds
Programme topic: ​Birds


Updated on 15 June 2016

​table of contentS

Regional coordination

Purpose of monitoring

Monitoring concepts table

Assessment requirements

Data providers and access



regional Coordination

The monitoring of this sub-programme is: not coordinated.

  • Common monitoring guidelines: missing.

  • Common quality assurance programme: missing. National QA/QC exist.

  • Common database: missing.


Purpose of monitoring (q4K)

Follow up of progress towards:

Baltic Sea Action Plan​ (BSAP)​ ​ ​ ​Segments ​Biodiversity
Hazardous substances
​Ecological objectives

Healthy wildlife
Viable populations of species
No illegal pollution

Marine strategy framework directive (MSFD) ​ ​ ​Descriptors ​​D1 Biodiversity
D4 Food webs
D8 Contaminants
​Criteria (Q5a)
​1.3 Population condition
4.1 Productivity (production per unit biomass) of key species or trophic groups
8.2 Effects of contaminants
​Features (Q5c)

Biological features:
A description of the population dynamics, natural and actual range and status of species of seabirds occurring in the marine region or subregion.

Other relevant legislation (Q8a)

Birds Directive

Water Framework Directive/Chemical quality


Bonn Convention

Bern Convention                                


Assessment of: (Q4k)

State/Impacts ​​X
Human activities
causing the pressures
Effectiveness of measures
Scale of data aggregation for assessments: (Q10a)
HELCOM assessment unit levels


1 - Baltic Sea
​2 - Subbasins
3 - Subbasins with coastal and offshore division​
4 - Subbasins with coastal WFD division
Other:  coastal zones

Monitoring concepts table


Coordination Elements
Q9a (Q5c)
Q9a (Q5c)
Q9c, Q9d
Q9e, 9f
Q9h, 9i
Spatial resolution
Q9g, 9i
Link to HELCOM core indicators Link to
MSFD GES characteristics

Spatial scope
Monitoring started
CPs monitoring
Semi-regional White-tailed eagle Breeding success, Nestling brood size, Productivity National National Yearly ​Selected coastal area White-tailed eagle productivity 1.3.1 Population demographic characteristics
4.1.1 Performance of key predator species using their production per unit biomass (productivity)
8.2 Effects of contaminants
​Coastal Waters 1965-1973 EE, DE, DK, FI, LV, LT,  PL, RU, SE
White-tailed eagle
Abundance, productivity
National, counting nests and reproductive parameters
Yearly Location of known nests
White-tailed eagle productivity 1.2.1 Population abundance
Performance of key predator species using their production per unit biomass (productivity)
Coastal Waters
1994 EE



Brief description of monitoring

Detailed information on monitoring frequency and spatial resolution has not yet been collected from all countries but will be added.

​Element / parameter
White-tailed eagle reproduction/ breeding success, nestling brood size and productivity

White-tailed eagles are resident and faithful to their territories throughout their lifetime. These features provide good opportunities for long-term monitoring of populations and breeding performance. Nest sites are checked annually for occupancy and the reproductive output is recorded for each occupied territory. Based on the frequency distribution in the population of occupied nests containing 0, 1, 2 or 3 nestlings, three reproductive parameters are assessed: the proportion of reproducing pairs in the population (Breeding success), the mean number of nestlings per successfully breeding pair (Nestling brood size) and the the mean number of nestlings per checked pair in the population (Productivity).

Based on data from nests inspected by climbing the nest tree, and excluding nests checked only from the ground, nestling brood size is a precise standard. Nest trees are climbed for precise assessment of reproductive parameters. Some samples are taken from the ground. In connection with these nest visits, measurements and biological samples are taken. The following parameters are usually measured from the nestlings: wing chord (for estimation of age in days), tarsus width and depth (for estimation of sex, see Helander 1981, Helander et al.2007), weight (for nutritional status) and in some areas feather and blood samples (for chemical analyses and genetic studies). The nestlings are ringed using an international colour ringing programme for identification, according to Helander (2003b). Dead eggs and shell pieces are collected for measurements, investigation of contents and chemical analyses, for studies on relationships with reproduction. Feathers shed from adults are generally collected. All samples collected in Sweden are archived in the National Specimen Data Bank.

QA/QC National. Regional coordination to be developed for reporting of national metadata.
Frequency Monitoring is done in the HELCOM Contracting Parties on an annual basis.
Spatial Scope Coastal waters / TW
Spatial resolution

Eagles presently breed along the coasts and mainland shores of the whole Baltic Sea, and are monitored in a network of national projects with harmonized methodology. Monitoring is made for the entire population. There are sub-regions with small subpopulations: the Gulf of Finland, and especially the Kattegat where the species was brought to extinction in the 1800s but where resettlement is now in progress.



Monitoring requirements and gaps

Monitoring is to be carried out to fulfill assessment requirements of HELCOM ecological objectives that are specified through HELCOM core indicators. The requirements on monitoring can include number of stations, the sampling frequency and replication.


White-tailed sea eagle reproductive ability is monitored annually by assessing the frequency distribution of occupied eagle nests containing 0, 1, 2 or 3 nestlings (3 being the maximum in this species). These data are used for the assessment of the three indicators of reproductive ability: breeding success, nestling brood size and productivity. Survey techniques and sampling methods are presented in (Helander 1994b, Helander et al. 2007, 2009). For assessment of nutritional condition of nestlings, weight and winglength (for age) is required.

​The core indicator 'Productivity of white-tailed eagle' describes not only biomagnification of contaminants, but also persecution, disturbance of nest sites, food availability and availability of suitable nesting sites. This indicator combines the breeding success and brood size into a single indicator and assesses the reproductive output of the population. It is a useful indicator in studies on relationships between reproduction and anthropogenic pressures and also a vital parameter in assessments of population status in management perspectives. Most Baltic Sea countries are monitoring white-tailed eagle and for assessment purposes monitoring should be done in all areas along the Baltic coast where the species occurs in adequate minumum abundance. In order to include white-tailed eagles that forage specifically in the coastal ecosystem zone and marine area, only breeding pairs in the coastal area should be considered (tentative boundary up to a maximum of 10 km inland from the coastal mean water line, in accordance with the guidelines of EC Nature 2-5, 1993).

Other bird species are currently not being monitored for marine bird health.

​Gaps Besides for the white-tailed eagle, monitoring for marine bird health currently does not exist.


Adequacy for assessment of GES (Q5d)

Monitoring should provide adequate data and information  to enable the periodic assessment of environmental status, and distance from and progress towards GES as required by MSFD under Article 9 and 11.

​Adequate data?​
Established methods for assessment?
A 5-year mean value against a pre-1950s target level for each reproductive parameter will be used.
​Adequate understanding of GES?
Adequate capacity to perform assessments? ​​Nationally



Assessment of natural variability (Q5e)

Quantitative. Natural variability in reproductive output is very small for this species.


Data providers and access

​Data access point
National databases
Data type (Q10c)

Processed datasets

Data availability (Q10c)​

National data centres

​Data access (Q10c)
Access by request
​INSPIRE standard (Q10c)
Species distribution (metadata; no nest site coordinates for protective reasons)
When will data become available? (Q10c)
In 2015
Data update frequency (Q10c)
3-year or 5-year intervals suggested
Describe how the data and information from the programmewill be made accessible to the EC/EEA

​By request

​​Contact points in the Contracting parties

Contact point to national monitoring programmes will be added.

​Has the data been used in HELCOM assessments?
​Yes, e.g. BSEP116B Biodiversity in the Baltic Sea.
Data is used in the following Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets (BSEF)

Population development of White-tailed eagle



Core indicator Productivity of white-tailed eagle