Centre for global ecological change at the University of Groningen

Birdeyes is a science and creative centre that views the world – almost literally – through the eyes of birds. More and more birds are flying around with tiny transmitters, loggers and other high technology on their backs and legs. This generates an unimaginable amount of information. By cleverly combining such data with other sources of information, and by using new ways to tell stories and share the insights with, BirdEyes strives to open up a new knowledge network. The centre aims to be an innovative part of the University of Groningen and is linked to the Rudolph Agricola School for Sustainable Development. BirdEyes, with empirical and inspirational roots in the farthest corners of the world.

Long tradition

Using the figurative eyes of (migratory) birds to expose and tell relevant ecological stories, we build on a deep Dutch tradition of in-depth research on the living conditions of coastal and meadow birds. We also build on the ever-increasing possibility to follow those birds around the globe by means of small transmitters. Birds become our eyes on the world.


Tagged godwits in the meadows of Friesland appear to have a predictive gift in finding the grasslands that were most resistant to drought later in the year. Red knots and bar-tailed godwits show climate change affecting their remote arctic breeding grounds. By their movement and breeding success, spoonbills show the presence and abundance of small fish. 

Expertise and interaction

Some ecologists may know a lot about birds, but they are unlikely to know about the many many human economic, social and cultural issues entanglements. We seek to ensure that ecologists connect with people who have an understanding of societal issues that touch on the ecological problems. Individuals who have been thinking about issues all their lives from their own practice as engaged farmers, journalists, entrepreneurs, artists, sociologists, elementary school teachers, philosophers, veterinarians or potato growers.


BirdEyes is an experimental collaboration between the Faculties of Science & Engineering and Campus Fryslân, from which close working forms will be developed with kindred spirits at NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, the University of Amsterdam and Fryske Akademy. Our teaching focuses on PhD students and postdocs, especially in the form of summer schools.

Located in Leeuwarden, BirdEyes stands for an interactive attitude. To be able to see the forest for the trees we maintain a sharp focus from that integrating bird’s eye view.


In addition, we are currently organizing targeted work meetings, building on the traditions that we have developed during the Wadvogelwerk (Metawad-Waddenfonds), Kening fan ‘e Greide for many years, and the black-tailed godwit research in southwest Fryslân.