Greek Hunters and their research programme: «Phenology of bird migration in Greece»

Since 2005, the Hellenic Hunters Confederation has conducted a program aiming to determine : 

  • phenology of migration of avian Game species,
  • phenology of migration of  avian waterfowl non- Game species,
  •  the size of the wintering population of Game species in the study areas, and
  •  the breeding population of waterfowl Game species in the study areas.

This research is realized with the scientific guidance of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Mediterranean Institute of Hunting Heritage and Fauna (IMPCF) and the Institute of Migrating Birds of the Western Palearctic (OMPO). More specifically the research is focusing on the migration phenology of three categories of birds: (i) aquatic and coastal birds (waterfowl birds), (ii) the woodcock, (iii) and cichlids (thrushes and blackbirds)

The term “phenology” refers to the science of occurrence, or presence, of certain events. More specifically, phenology is the science of recording moments in time when cyclic repetitive life events present themselves in the life of every living organism.

In that purpose, lots of monitoring activities are conducted every year:


The study of Waterfowl bird species

Surveys of waterfowl species are conducted each year from July to April, once every ten-day period, 3 times per month, simultaneously in 22 major wetlands in Greece, by 39 specialized observers.  Fourteen (14) Game and thirteen (13) Non-Game migratory species, in Greece, are surveyed. In addition, weather conditions and information about the habitat are recorded in order to be used when processing the results.

The study of Eurasian woodcock

Woodcock surveys (Scolopax rusticola) are conducted each year from October to November and from January to March, once every ten days, 3 times per month, simultaneously in 26 different places all over the country, covering all types of biotopes. In addition, weather conditions and information about the biotope are recorded in order to be used when processing the results.

The study of Thrushes

The nocturnal migration of thrushes (Turdus merula, Turdus philomelos, Turdus iliacus) is recorded during a 4 hour period (23:00 to 03:00) every night from January to March in 5 bioacoustical stations (located in the main flyways of Thrushes).

The annual cost for all the axis of this Research Program is completely funded by Hellenic Hunters Confederation based on the annual fees which Greek hunters pay for their hunting license. The direct costs for implementing the project is 250.000 € annually. 

Such studies allow a better understanding about the migrating behavior of birds and the impact of external factors such as the climate change. The results would then become a reliable basis for the proposal of conservation measures.

For more information here