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Please be informed that the conduct of the 2023 Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) is scheduled on January 7 to 22, 2023. These dates are for guidance only and counts from any date in between December 2022 to February 2023 are welcome.

The Regional AWC coordinators are advised to engage personnel who are previously involved in AWC along with other volunteers. Geographic coordinates and digital maps should be provided by the counters per site along with the AWC report. Please do the count in the same sites that were visited in previous years and use the same site or locality name in reporting unless a prior decision has been made to stop visiting old sites. New sites may, however, be visited as necessary.

It is requested that the AWC 2023 results be analyzed at the Regional Office level and provide BMB with advance copies of the AWC reports and data sheets through e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The official report should be transmitted to this Bureau not later than end of April 2023.

In addition to the regular AWC, we wish to inform also that the Philippines is participating in the International Black-faced Spoonbill Census (BFS Census) which is scheduled on 6-8 January 2023. We recommend that the conduct of AWC for areas which are known to support Black-faced Spoonbill population should coincide with the schedule of BFS Census.


The Wetlands International coordinates the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC). The AWC runs parallel to other international census of waterbirds in Africa, Europe and Neotropics under the International Waterbird Census (IWC) umbrella.

The census has six major objectives:

  • providing the basis for estimates of waterbird populations;
  • monitoring changes in waterbird numbers and distribution by regular, standardised counts of representative wetlands;
  • improving knowledge of little-known waterbird species and wetland sites;
  • identifying and monitoring (networks of) sites that are important for waterbirds in general and, more specifically, identifying and monitoring sites that qualify as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands;
  • providing information on the conservation status of waterbird species, for use by international agreements;
  • increasing awareness of the importance of waterbirds and their wetland habitats at local, national and international levels.

The AWC also aims to build and strengthen national networks of enthusiastic volunteers and facilitate their training.

Dates & Duration
The AWC is an annual event and takes place once a year, during the second and third weeks of January. The census was initiated in 1987 in the Indian subcontinent, and has grown rapidly to cover 26 countries of South Asia, East Asia, South East Asia, Pacific, as well as Russia Far East.  

The census is primarily carried out by volunteers from all walks of life: university and school staff and students, nature club members, amateur and professional ornithologists, government and non-governmental agencies related to forestry, wildlife or wetland conservation and others.        

Wetland Sites
Sites covered during the census include all types of natural and man-made wetlands, including, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, freshwater swamps, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs, rice fields and sewage farms, etc. site data is entered onto standardised site forms.

Waterbird Species 
Waterbirds counted during the census include all types of waterbirds regularly encountered at wetlands, including, grebes, cormorants, pelicans, herons, egrets, storks, ibises, spoonbills, flamingoes, ducks, geese, swans, cranes, rails, jacanas, shorebirds gulls, terns. In addition, raptors, kingfishers and other wetlanddependent birds are covered. Count data is entered onto standardised count forms.

Data collection
The annual waterbird count data and site information are recorded on standardised census forms. A single count is made at each site. The information is then submitted to the national and sub-national coordinators. After collation, analysis and preparation of a country report, information is disseminated widely for national and local use. This information is also forwarded to Wetlands International to be collated into a regional database. Regional reports and analysis are produced and widely disseminated.       

Results and Applications
Since its establishment in 1987, the AWC has covered more than 5,700 sites across 26 countries, with the active participation of thousands of volunteers.  

The data collected by the AWC has been featured in various reports and have contributed to conservation activities ranging from local to global levels by supporting: 

  • species and site conservation and research programmes and campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands in many countries
  • development of national wetland and waterbird conservation Action Plan and Strategy
  • the Ramsar Convention in identifying wetlands of international importance through regular monitoring of waterbirds
  • the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) by monitoring the status of migratory waterbirds and their habitats
  • the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) goal in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity
  • implementation of the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 2001-2005
  • BirdLife International's Important Bird Area (IBA) Programme
  • IUCN/BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Update (GTB) Programme
  • Wetlands International's Waterbird Population Estimates (WPE)





  1. Please spend some time reading the Census Guide for the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC)
  1. Everybody is enjoined to use the Asian Waterbird Census Count Form. Please reproduce this Form for all your counters.
  1. Please fill-up the Site Form when visiting a site for the first time. Please reproduce as may be necessary or for your record.
  1. Please note changes in each site. If there are changes in a site please refer to the original Site Form, copy it and note the changes in the copy.
  1. Please return to the sites that have been regularly visited in previous years and use the same names for them.
  1. Sites that have been monitored as one site in previous years should be monitored as such and not divided up into two (2) or more sites.
  1. Please use the same route or visit the same points within a site when doing the waterbird count every year.
  1. Please do not combine counts from one (1) site but taken in different days into one Asian Waterbird Census Count Form.
  1. Please do not combine counts from different sites in one Count Form.
  1. Please submit hard copies of the site count results to the National Coordinator at the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).
  1. Regional Coordinators are also enjoined to submit a compilation of the Regional; count data in Microsoft Excel format to BMB.
  1. The reliability of data is very important in this AWC, if in case it would not be feasible to visit all sites due to some constraints, then please concentrate on the more important sites but make it a point that the chosen sites are visited annually.

Please reproduce this set of pointers, the Census Guide, and the Forms (Site and Count Forms) for your counters.

AWC 2023 Sites and Schedule