Contributions of the Ibadan Bird Club

Re-launch of IBC, IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria, 13 February 2016 (Photo credit: Babajide Agboola)

Awoyemi AG and Bown D. 2019. Bird conservation in Africa – the contributions of the Ibadan Bird Club. Biodiversity Observations 10.9:1-12

Biodiversity Observations is an open access electronic journal published by the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town. This HTML version of this manuscript is hosted by the Biodiversity and Development Institute. Further details for this manuscript can be found at the journal page, and the manuscript page, along with the original PDF.

Bird conservation in Africa – the contributions of the Ibadan Bird Club

Adewale G Awoyemi

Forest Unit, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria; A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI), University of Jos Biological Conservatory, Jos, Nigeria

Deni Bown

Forest Unit, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria


The Ibadan Bird Club has met 19 times at monthly intervals between February 2016 and August 2017, and 264 people (155 male and 109 female) have registered as members. During this period, the club has successfully built local capacity in bird conservation, and 111 bird species, distributed in 39 families, have been documented in an urban Important Bird Area, southwestern Nigeria. The findings of this citizen science initiative are essential for conservation purposes.


Conservation efforts produce remarkable results when stakeholders (landowners, indigenes, visitors, organizations and authorities) are involved in activities (Awoyemi et al. 2018). The stakeholders can contribute through citizen science, which is the collection of ecological data by members of the general public and non-specialists as part of scientific projects (Dickinson et al. 2012). This has been successful worldwide, especially in Australia (Tulloch et al. 2013), Europe (Silvertown, 2009) and North America (Dickinson et al. 2012), where enthusiasts, volunteers and nature lovers contribute data via bird and nature clubs. In some parts of Africa, citizen scientists now contribute data to bird atlas projects, which aim to map the distribution of birds in the continent (Hulbert, 2016; Ivande et al. 2017). The African Bird Club has taken this initiative by funding the establishment of bird clubs in Africa, notably the Ibadan Bird Club (IBC) (Demey, 2015).

The IBC was started on 5 March 2014 by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation in partnership with the Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, University of Ibadan, and the Forest Project at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria (Demey, 2015). The aim was to build local capacity and enhance the conservation of birds in the Ibadan area. On 13 February 2016, the club was re-launched, so that it could be coordinated by the IITA Forest Unit as an activity of the A. G. Leventis-funded Ornithological Monitoring Project 2015-2017 (Figs. 1-3). The contributions of the club to bird conservation from then until August 2017 are presented here.

Re-launch of IBC, IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria, 13 February 2016 (Photo credit: Babajide Agboola)
Fig 1. Re-launch of IBC, IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria, 13 February 2016 (Photo credit: Babajide Agboola)
Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) drinking water by the lake during IBC re-launch, 13 February 2016 (Photo credit: Andreas Gisel).
Fig 2. Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) drinking water by the lake during IBC re-launch, 13 February 2016 (Photo credit: Andreas Gisel).
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) foraging in the IITA main reservoir during IBC re-launch, 13 February 2016 (Photo credit: Arvind Khebudkar)
Fig 3. Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) foraging in the IITA main reservoir during IBC re-launch, 13 February 2016 (Photo credit: Arvind Khebudkar)


Study area

The activities of the IBC since its re-launch have been carried out within the IITA campus, Ibadan (7° 29’ N, 3° 54’ E; Fig. 4). The approx. 1000 ha campus is located in the transition zone between savannah and rainforest, and experiences two distinct seasons: wet (April-September) and dry (October-March) (Neuenschwander et al. 2015). The campus has different kinds of habitats (forests, wetlands, farmlands and gardens) and supports over 270 species of birds, which are either Afro-tropical residents or migratory (Ezealor, 2001; Adeyanju et al. 2014). The approx. 360 ha forest reserve within the campus is dominated by native trees such as , , and (Manu et al. 2005). It also holds 67 bird species that are restricted to the Guinea-Congo Forest Biome, qualifying it as an Important Bird Area (IBA) (Ezealor, 2001). It is our understanding that this is the only IBA in Nigeria located in a major conurbation, justifying the need for capacity building at the local level. The campus also contains a large reservoir, several lakes and a number of fishponds which constitute important habitats for waterbirds while crops such as banana, cassava, cowpea, maize, plantain, rice and yam are cultivated in the research farm.

Map of the IITA campus, Ibadan, Nigeria, May 2016 (Image credit: GIS Unit, IITA)
Fig 4. Map of the IITA campus, Ibadan, Nigeria, May 2016 (Image credit: GIS Unit, IITA)

Data collection

The IBC has no badging but there is a unique structure that produces results. Typically an invitation, which contains a striking photo taken by a member, is sent at least 3 days before the new meeting date, which is fixed on the last Saturday of every month at 16h00 – 18h00. All levels of age, interest and experience are encouraged, and membership is free. Member attendance is noted and feedback is given in the form of short reports sent after each meeting while the members interact online via the club’s Facebook Group Page. Since the main focus of the club is capacity building, the coordinators (authors) normally stop at regular intervals to explain some aspects of avian ecology and the relevance of environmental education and citizen science to biodiversity conservation. The junior members of the club (IBC Juniors) are given high priority, and engaged in activities such as quizzes, debates, drawing contests, mist-netting and presentations in scientific workshops, in addition to birdwatching. In order to consolidate the knowledge gained during the meetings, club members are invited to workshops organised by the IITA Forest Unit Ornithological Monitoring Project on topics such as IBAs, Spring Alive and the World Migratory Bird Day.

Data were collected from February 2016 to August 2017 during meetings of the IBC. During this time, 19 meetings were held but data from 18 meetings (equally distributed between dry and wet seasons) were used in analysing our biological data as rain did not allow for a complete survey in June 2017 and the record was excluded. Therefore a total of 36 hours was spent during the meetings (survey). On arrival at the meeting venue, new members were normally introduced to the basics of birdwatching and use of equipment. Visits were then made to the three main habitats in the study area (farmland, forest and wetland), with each habitat receiving an equal number of visits (N=6). Line transects, measuring approx. 1.5 km were used to record all birds seen or heard during each walk (Bibby et al. 2000), though no fixed radius was set. There was no obvious change in vegetation during the data collection, therefore we did not measure vegetation variables but described the visited habitats as above. Consequently, we predicted that changes in bird encounter rate would be influenced mainly by habitat and season.

Data analyses

We calculated encounter rate as the number of species recorded per 2-hour survey (Guilherme, 2014), which was our response variable. We then graphically explored our dataset, and tested its normality using Shapiro-Wilk normality test: W = 0.654, p < 0.001. As this was not normally distributed even after transformation, we used Poisson Logistic Regression to test the difference in encounter rate between habitats and seasons in R statistical Software (R Development Core Team, 2013).

Furthermore, the species’ local abundance was estimated using this formula: (Ti/Tn) x 100; where Ti = number of transects along which a species was recorded, and Tn = the total number of transects surveyed (Asefu, 2015). We then classified species as common (observed on >75% of transects), frequent (observed on 50-74% of transects), uncommon (observed on 25-49% of transects) or rare (observed on <25% of transects) following Asefu (2015). We also assigned species to one of 3 major habitats (Redman et al. 2009; Borrow & Demey 2010): (1) aquatic species (wetlands, lakes and marshes); (2) forest species (closed forest); and (3) open habitat species (farmlands with scattered trees and grassland).


Our sociological data reveal that 264 people have registered as members of the IBC since its re-launch. Among these were 155 male (59%), 109 female (41%) and 27 juniors under the age of 12 years (10%). The club has been consistent in its activities, and an average of 31 members attends the monthly meetings.

Biologically, 111 bird species belonging to 39 families were recorded during the survey; their relative frequency, status, biomes and habitat requirements are listed in Appendix 1. Among these were 21 species restricted to the Guinea-Congo Forests Biome, 1 species restricted to the Sudan-Guinea Savannah Biome, 7 Palaearctic migrants and 16 Intra-African migrants, while the rest were resident (Appendix 1). This diversity of birds may be attributed to the different kinds of habitats found within the study area, which allows birds to exploit them differently. For instance, all the 21 species restricted to the Guinea-Congo Forests Biome were recorded within the forest reserve, the yellow-billed shrike (restricted to the Sudan-Guinea Savannah Biome) was recorded only in farmlands, while the palaearctic and Intra-African migrants mainly utilized farmlands and wetlands. Poisson Logistic Regression shows that bird encounter rate significantly differs between habitats and seasons (Table 1; Fig. 5).

Parameters Estimate Error z p
Intercept 0.52325 0.09622 5.438 <0.001
Habitat (forest) -0.07696 0.13472 -0.571 0.568
Habitat (wetland) 0.46761 0.12348 3.787 <0.001
Season (wet) 0.45689 0.11568 3.949 <0.001
forest x wet -0.60378 0.19041 -3.171 <0.001
wetland x wet -0.51344 0.15644 -3.282 <0.001
Differences in encounter rate between habitats and seasons
Fig 5. Differences in encounter rate between habitats and seasons


Effective conservation of biodiversity largely depends on the involvement of stakeholders. Our findings have revealed that their involvement increases the appreciation of the natural world. If well-engaged, they can also contribute data which are essential for formulating conservation strategies as presented here. The IBC has successfully raised awareness about bird conservation and engaged citizen scientists. The club has attracted the attention of indigenes, visitors/tourists, enthusiasts, professionals, researchers and students, who in turn disseminate the knowledge gained from the club to a wider audience such as colleagues, families and friends. In addition, the influence generated online via the Facebook Group Page is producing positive cascading effects. Worthy of note is the performance of the IBC Juniors whose age averages 9 years. Children learn quickly at tender ages, and we have maximized this opportunity to inculcate environmental and conservation values in them. It is anticipated that both the values and practical skills will provide a worthwhile basis for their contributions to society as citizens of the future.

Given the focus of this study, which is citizen science, our biological data undoubtedly under-estimate bird diversity in the study area (see Adeyanju et al. 2014). It is also important to note that we were more interested in the number of species encountered per habitat but the fact that more birds were encountered in a certain habitat does not imply it is richer. In addition, the survey was carried out towards late afternoon, implying that we have missed out on some birds at dawn. Nevertheless, the study has added to the goal of constant monitoring of birds and habitats, and local capacity has been built. In addition, our study has affirmed the ornithological significance of the study area by recording 21 out of the 67 bird species that qualify the IITA Forest Reserve as an IBA (Ezealor, 2001). The yellow-billed shrike , a species restricted to the Sudan-Guinea Savannah Biome was recorded during our expeditions. Although this is hardly surprising due to the location of the study area in the transition zone between the forest and savannah (Neuenschwander et al. 2015), this might also provide a clearer indication of savannah encroachment into the forest zone. By occurring in nearly all the habitat types, three species were the most commonly recorded throughout the survey: red-eyed dove (18/18), African pied hornbill (17/18) and pied crow (16/18).

Interestingly, more birds were encountered in the wet than dry season in all three habitats (Table 1; Fig. 5). On the one hand, this may be due to the influx of migratory birds at the end of the wet season in August and September as the study area serves as an important wintering ground for Palaearctic migrants. On the other hand, it may be due to the recruitment of new individuals as most Afro-tropical resident birds are known to breed during the wet season when food is plentiful (Elgood et al. 1994). As IITA is an agricultural research institute, mechanized farming is carried out within the campus. During two of our bird walks during the wet season, over 50 birds at a time were noted intensively foraging behind tractors as they ploughed in the research fields. This might account for the higher number of birds recorded in this habitat during the wet season. In addition, we also noted that heavy downpours caused some lakes to overflow their banks. While this may appear hazardous, receding water increases the concentration of prey available to birds foraging along water bodies (Cumming et al. 2012).

In conclusion, we have provided evidence that environmental education via bird clubs is vital for bird conservation. Our findings from the citizen science data presented here may be the first in Africa and, given the rate at which habitats are lost due to anthropogenic activities, environmental education and citizen science are particularly important now. Although the activities of the IBC were restricted to the IITA campus during this reporting period, plans are underway to replicate activities in other areas around Ibadan. We will also endeavour to get more birdwatching equipment and materials (binoculars, telescopes, cameras, bird song recorders and guidebooks) to better serve the average number of members we expect at monthly meetings.


Authors are grateful to the following people and organizations: all IBC members who supported the activities of the club; Chima Nwaogu and Sam Ivande advised on statistical analyses; Shiiwua Manu and Phil Hall commented on an earlier draft; the AG. Leventis Foundation funded the IBC as part of the Ornithological Monitoring Project, and IITA-Ibadan hosted the activities of the club. This is publication number 146 from the A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI), Jos, Nigeria.


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Family English name Scientific name Relative frequency Status Biome Habitiat
long-tailed cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus R R AQ
purple heron Ardea purpurea U P AQ
squacco heron Ardeola ralloides U P AQ
intermediate egret Egretta intermedia U R AQ
little bittern Ixobrychus minutus R P AQ
black-headed heron Ardea melanocephala U R OH
grey heron Ardea cinerea R P AQ
cattle egret Bubulcus ibis U M OH
green-backed heron Butorides striata R R AQ
great egret Egretta alba R M AQ
little egret Egretta garzetta R M AQ
hadeda ibis Bostrychia hagedash R R AQ
white-faced whistling duck Dendrocygna viduata F R AQ
African harrier hawk Polyboroides typus R R FR
African cuckoo hawk Aviceda cuculoides R R OH
palm-nut vulture Gypohierax angolensis R R FR
African goshawk Accipiter tachiro R R OH
yellow-billed kite Milvus aegyptius F M OH
lanner falcon Falco biarmicus R R OH
grey kestrel Falco ardosiaceus R R OH
common kestrel Falco tinnunculus U R OH
helmeted guineafowl Numida meleagris R R OH
double-spurred francolin Francolinus bicalcaratus U R OH
African crake Crex egregia R M AQ
Allen’s gallinule Porphyrio alleni R M AQ
black crake Amaurornis flavirostra R R AQ
common moorhen Gallinula chloropus R R AQ
African jacana Actophilornis africana F R AQ
Senegal thicknee Burhinus senegalensis R R AQ
white-headed lapwing Vanellus albiceps F R AQ
Forbes’s plover Charadrius forbesi R R AQ
spur-winged lapwing Vanellus spinosus F R AQ
wood sandpiper Tringa glareola R P AQ
common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos R P AQ
red-eyed dove Streptopelia semitorquata C R OH
speckled pigeon Columba guinea U R OH
blue-spotted wood dove Turtur afer U R FR
African green pigeon Treron calvus R R FR
western grey plantain-eater Crinifer piscator R R OH
green turaco Tauraco persa R R GCF FR
black cuckoo Cuculus clamosus R M OH
black-throated coucal Centropus leucogaster R R GCF FR
blue-headed coucal Centropus monachus R R AQ
Diederik cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius R M OH
Klaas’s cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas R M OH
Senegal coucal Centropus senegalensis F R OH
yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus R R FR
African palm swift Cypsiurus parvus R R OH
little swift Apus affinis R R OH
mottled spinetail Telacanthura ussheri R R OH
woodland kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis F M OH
malachite kingfisher Alcedo cristata R R AQ
blue-breasted kingfisher Halcyon malimbica R R FR
white-throated bee-eater Merops albicollis R M OH
broad-billed roller Eurystomus glaucurus R M OH
African pied hornbill Tockus fasciatus C R FR
African grey hornbill Tockus nasutus U M OH
red-rumped tinkerbird Pogoniulus atroflavus R R GCF FR
lesser striped swallow Hirundo abyssinica R M OH
red-rumped swallow Hirundo daurica R M OH
Ethiopian swallow Hirundo aethiopica R R OH
plain-backed pipit Anthus leucophrys R R OH
African pied wagtail Motacilla aguimp R R OH
yellow-throated longclaw Macronyx croceus U R OH
common bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus F R OH
swamp palm bulbul Thescelocichla leucopleura R R GCF FR
simple leaflove Chlorocichla simplex R R GCF FR
little greenbul Andropadus virens R R FR
grey-headed bristlebill Bleda canicapillus R R GCF FR
yellow-whiskered greenbul Andropadus latirostris R R FR
western nicator Nicator chloris R R GCF FR
African thrush Turdus pelios F R OH
whinchat Saxicola rubetra R P OH
snowy-crowned robin chat Cossypha niveicapilla R R OH
green crombec Sylvietta virens R R GCF FR
red-faced cisticola Cisticola erythrops U R OH
short-winged cisticola Cisticola brachypterus R R OH
tawny-flanked prinia Prinia subflava R R OH
African moustached warbler Melocichla mentalis R R OH
grey-backed camaroptera Camaroptera brachyura R R OH
olive green camaroptera Camaroptera chloronota R R GCF FR
green hylia Hylia prasina R R GCF FR
croaking cisticola Cisticola natalensis R R OH
yellow-browed camaroptera Camaroptera superciliaris R R GCF FR
red-bellied paradise flycatcher Terpsiphone rufiventer R R GCF FR
blue-headed crested flycatcher Trochocercus nitens R R GCF FR
splendid sunbird Cinnyris coccinigastrus U R FR
collared sunbird Hedydipna colaris R R FR
green-headed sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis R R OH
blue-throated brown sunbird Cyanomitra cyanolaema R R GCF FR
olive sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea R R FR
olive-bellied sunbird Cinnyris chloropygius R R FR
yellow-billed shrike Corvinella corvina R R SGS OH
tropical boubou Laniarius aethiopicus R R FR
black-winged oriole Oriolus nigripennis R R GCF FR
fork-tailed drongo Dicrurus adsimilis U R OH
square-tailed drongo Dicrurus ludwigii R R OH
pied crow Corvus albus C R OH
forest chestnut-winged starling Onychognathus fulgidus R R GCF FR
northern grey-headed sparrow Passer griseus R R OH
red-headed quelea Quelea erythrops R M OH
Vieillot’s black weaver Ploceus nigerrimus R R GCF FR
village weaver Ploceus cucullatus R R OH
red-headed malimbe Malimbus rubricollis U R GCF FR
red-vented malimbe Malimbus scutatus R R GCF FR
yellow-mantled weaver Ploceus tricolor R R GCF FR
northern red bishop Euplectes franciscanus R R OH
bronze mannikin Spermestes cucullatus F R OH
grey-headed negrofinch Nigrita canicapillus R R GCF FR
orange-cheeked waxbill Estrilda melpoda R R OH
pin-tailed whydah Vidua macroura U R OH


  1. Thank you for supporting citizen science initiatives in Africa, and for publishing this important data from Nigeria.

    1. Hi Adewale. We are watching the citizen science work being done in Nigeria with great interest. We look forward to hearing more news.

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