About >

Bird Monitoring Data Exchange (BMDE)

The Bird Monitoring Data Exchange (BMDE) was developed to be a standardized data exchange schema that would promote the sharing and analysis of observational data about birds.


A working group of representatives from non-governmental organizations, government and academia met over a two-year period to define the components of this data exchange schema. The result is the creation of the bird monitoring data exchange (BMDE), which represents the content structure of bird monitoring datasets and allows the transfer of bird monitoring data across electronic information systems.


The BMDE includes 130 fields that are capable of capturing all metrics and descriptors associated with a bird observation. The foundation of the BMDE are the 55 fields of the Darwin Core (DwC), a similar exchange schema developed to facilitate the interchange of distributional information about organisms, based on data from natural history collections (i.e., museums), living collections (i.e., zoos), and observations. Using Darwin Core allows bird monitoring data to be integrated with other bioinformatic initiatives such as ORNIS and GBIF. The BMDE extends the DwC schema to incorporate required variables for the comprehensive interchange of bird monitoring data. These extended fields include information on the type of survey and observer effort. The BMDE does not accommodate data on the habitats or conditions of the observation; thus data on vegetation, sea conditions, or weather conditions are not archived in the BMDE.

We remind you that the purpose of the BMDE is not to describe all data fields of every bird monitoring dataset, but rather to allow sharing of information for the purpose generating various analyses. We realize that some types of datasets would require additional field extensions in order to capture it in its entirety. For example, we are currently working on a schema extension for bird banding datasets, which will be an optional add-on to the BMDE schema. 

The BMDE will function within the DiGIR grid services environment. Currently under development are access tools available at the AKN website to allow access to the federated datasets. The BMDE is occasionally updated, most recently in early 2008; read more here.

Click here to download the BMDE

Click here to see the full list of BMDE variables and their definitions.