Asian Waterbird Census


Wetlands InternationalEvery January, thousands of volunteers across Asia and Australasia visit wetlands in their country and count waterbirds. This event is called the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC), which is part of a global waterbird monitoring programme, the International Waterbird Census (IWC: see the next section), coordinated by Wetlands International.

The AWC was initiated in 1987 in the Indian subcontinent and has grown rapidly to cover the region of Asia, from Afghanistan eastwards to Japan, Southeast Asia and Australasia. It therefore includes the entire East Asian-Australasian Flyway and a large part of the Central Asian Flyway. The AWC runs parallel to other regional programmes of the International Waterbird Census of waterbirds in Africa, Europe, West Asia, the Neotropics and the Caribbean.

The census has three major objectives:

  • to obtain information on an annual basis of waterbird populations at wetlands in the region during the non-breeding period of most species (January), as a basis for evaluation of sites and monitoring of populations
  • to monitor on an annual basis the status and condition of wetlands
  • to encourage greater interest in waterbirds and wetlands amongst people, and thereby promote the conservation of wetlands and waterbirds in the region.

Relevant materials

To see the latest news from the AWC network as well as past editions of the AWC newsletter, please visit here.


The International Waterbird Census (IWC) has run since 1967 and today covers over 25,000 sites in more than 100 countries. In each country national coordinators work with a network of professional and amateur counters to provide waterbird counts to the IWC. In total, more than 15,000 people submit their data annually, making this one of the largest global monitoring schemes largely based on citizen science. This programme supports conservation and management of wetlands and waterbirds in all the world’s flyways. There are four separate regional schemes of the IWC that represent the major flyways of the world: Africa-Eurasia, Asia-Pacific, Caribbean and Neotropics.

To mark the 50th count of the IWC on 2016, Wetlands International carried out a year-long campaign “Let’s make it count” in partnership with its national and international IWC partners, volunteers and governments to raise the bar and increase the number of important wetland sites covered by the annual count, and ensure the latest and most up-to-date information about waterbirds is available to support conservation action worldwide.

IWC 50
To find out more about IWC, please visit IWC website of Wetlands International.

Asian Waterbird Census 2017

The recommended dates for the AWC 2017 counts are from Saturday 7th to Sunday 22nd January 2017, covering two weeks and three weekends. These dates are for guidance only and counts from any date in January are very welcome.

If you have not participated in the census before, information and AWC count forms and guidelines are uploaded on the AWC website. The Count Forms are available in Excel and Word. The standard IWC Count Methodology is available here.   If you have participated in a previous count for a particular site, kindly cover the site this year and report on it using the latest 2017 forms. Do so even if there are few or no birds as this is important information too. We encourage you to cover as many sites as possible and encourage more participation. Submission of forms should be done by the end of February 2017 at the latest.

Across Asia-Australasia – kindly use the appropriate AWC Site and Count forms to report your observations and provide these through your country/regional coordinators, contact details here. If there is no coordinator, kindly send your forms to or if submissions are to be made by post, forms should be sent to Wetlands International – South Asia office, A21 Defence Colony, New Delhi, India.

AWC Newsletters:

Asian Waterbird Census 2016

AWC 2016 announcements are available in different languages: ChineseIndonesianMalaysian, Thai.

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