Analysis tools: Moonwatching

The majority of migrating birds choose to travel in high altitudes at night. Although their calls can be sometimes heard, many birds pass undetected by bird watchers in the night sky. The observation of travelling birds silhouetted against the (full) moon offers a simple method for estimating bird migration at night.


  • Encouraging standardized moon-watch counts of nocturnal bird migration, including data acquisition and management
  • Compiling migration data from regions with high observer density


Nocturnal migrant birds can be observed with spotting scopes or telescopes as they pass in front of the full moon. The number of birds per time interval is proportional to the overall intensity of bird migration.


Moon-watching can easily provide first details on local patterns of bird migrations, especially in areas where even basic knowledge is missing. Single observations get much more importance, if they can be incorporated in a comprehensive framework as provided by moon-watch.


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