Network & Database
Blue tit on a tree branch, getting ready to fly.

SPI-Birds Network & Database, or the Studies of Populations of Individual Birds, is a grassroots initiative connecting researchers working on populations of breeding, individually marked birds. On this website, you can learn more about our work, search for populations of birds across the world, and request data for these populations.


Who are we?

SPI-Birds Network is a network of researchers who collect data on breeding, individually marked birds. SPI-Birds Network offers expert advice on:

  • how to start with a monitoring of a new population  (e.g., we can advice on the best approach to field set-up and data management).
  • joining existing projects within the Network, or starting new projects based on the data hosted in the Database. We especially encourage students and young researchers to get in touch.

SPI-Birds Database is a data hub of breeding data on individually marked birds, which can be requested by anyone within or outside the Network:

  • registers studies of populations of breeding, individually marked birds.
  • hosts breeding and individual data from over 200 breeding populations of individually marked birds, in the original data format (i.e., as stored by each researcher or research group) and in the SPI-Birds standard data format (see here).
  • acts as a central contact point for accessing the data.
  • conducts quality checks on the data to correct for any mistakes in the datasets, and to warn the users about potential issues when using the data.

Why do we do this?

  1. Archive data to prevent data loss
  2. Make it easier for users to identify studies and populations that might be of interest for their project
  3. Reduce the time involved in formatting data
  4. Provide a community standard of data formatting and vocabulary that can be followed by anybody establishing a new field study
  5. Increase the quality and integrity of data

Become a member or use the data

The network and database membership is open to anybody who collects data on individually marked birds, including researchers or members of the general public. Please email our coordinator Dr. Antica Culina.

Anyone can use the database to search for studies of interest, and to request the access to the data. Please go to 'Find a population'.


The project is funded by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) grant to Dr. Antica Culina, and Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics (NTNU, Trondheim), and NIOO-KNAW.



The following documents form the core of the SPI-Birds Network and Database:

  1. The community-defined standard protocol for collecting individual-level bird data. The SPI-Birds developers create tailored pipelines to convert any data format (as stored with the data owner) into SPI-Birds' standard format. Appendices to the standard format are available here.
  2. The pipelines that convert data into the SPI-Birds' standard format are available through an R package our GitHub pipeline repository
  3. The standard data quality check procedure that is performed on each pipeline to ensure data integrity and quality.
  4. The Terms of Use and data access policy document that informs data users on how to use and acknowledge the data hosted at SPI-Birds.

Older versions of these documents are available on our GitHub documentation repository.

Network structure

Network structure

The organizational structure of SPI-Birds includes two main components:

  • The advisory component includes the Advisory Council and the SPI-Birds Network Members.
  • The executive component consists of the Executive Board and four Teams: Coordinators, Developers, Technical Architecture, Outreach.
Find a population

Find a population

Search for populations of birds across the world.

To request data, please read our Terms of Use and send an email to spibirds@nioo.knaw.nl, including:

  1. a list of desired study sites and species,
  2. a description of the reasons for the data request
World map with all the study sites that are part of SPI-Birds.
Research & conferences