Every 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


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 2013-2017 Summary Report

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

Asian Waterbird Census 2020?

The recommended dates are January 4 – 19,  2020 covering two weeks and three weekends, when we should encourage you to count waterbirds. These dates are for guidance only and counts from any date in January are very welcome. Submission of forms should be done by end February 2020 at the latest.

If you have not participated in the census before, information and AWC count forms and guidelines are uploaded on the AWC website. The 2020 AWC Waterbird Count & Wetland Assessment forms are available in Excel and the 2020 AWC Wetland Assessment Form as a Google Form. The standard IWC Count Methodology is available here.

Drawing the boundaries of a site or count area on a map is key to ensuring consistent coverage from year to year. Digitising Site Boundaries is a simple guidance to the various options to make digital boundaries for sites and submit these with your counts.  All AWC sites submitted to Wetland International with site boundaries or a simple latitude and longitude are visible on the IWC Portal. Zoom in to see your site.

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 forms. Please also report if there are few or no birds, as this is very important information too.

We also encourage you to count EAAFP Network Sites and other important wetlands for waterbirds in your area.

Kindly use the appropriate AWC forms to report your observations and provide these by the end of February to your country/regional coordinators, contact details here. If there is no coordinator, kindly send your forms to awc@wetlands.org.

Good luck with your conservation efforts and very best wishes for the count!

Asian Waterbird Census 2019

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Asian Waterbird Census Newsletter: December 2019

Asian Waterbird Census 2018

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Asian Waterbird Census Newsletter:  2019

Asian Waterbird Census 2017

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Asian Waterbird Census 2016

AWC 2016 announcements are available in different languages: Chinese, and Malaysian.

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