Monitor Songbird Lab

Monitor Conservation Research Society (Monitor) is dedicated to combating the illegal and unsustainable trade in wildlife through sound research, strategic interventions, and the dissemination of information critical to the conservation of threatened species.

Monitor comprises a team of highly skilled and experienced wildlife trade experts, located around the world. They have authored numerous peer-reviewed publications on wildlife trade issues and are recognized as leaders in this field.  The team actively participates in many different IUCN SSC Specialist Groups, believing that coordination and collaboration between NGOs is key to conservation success.

Monitor’s main aim is to make relevant, evidence-based, information available to stakeholders, decision makers and conservation organizations. Larger conservation initiatives often take the flagship approach and focus on iconic species, which has its merits, especially for habitat conservation, but this approach often neglects lesser-known species groups. Monitor fills a crucial niche by focusing on these species and on unknown and understudied wildlife trade issues, including exposing captive breeding “laundry” operations, scrutinizing the implementation and effectiveness of national and international laws, conventions, policies and other regulatory tools, highlighting the abuses of regulatory frameworks, and more.

The songbird trade is amongst their key areas of focus, and their research in this area ultimately aims to significantly reduce the illegal and unsustainable songbird trade in Asia and beyond.

To work towards these aims, Monitor and the Silent Forest Group have together created the Monitor Songbird Lab; a joint effort to increase evidence-based research outputs on songbird trade and its effects on biodiversity. The Monitor Songbird Lab is coordinated by Boyd Leupen of Monitor and includes amongst other researchers, Simon Bruslund from the Silent Forest Group and Monitor Executive Director Chris Shepherd.

The Monitor Songbird Lab initiative has already resulted in multiple publications, produced in collaboration with several different NGOs and universities. Furthermore, a comprehensive data package on the global songbird trade; the Species Knowledge Index for Songbirds was developed in close cooperation with the Species360 Conservation Science Alliance and the University of Southern Denmark. As part of this project, the Songbirds in Trade Database (SiTDB) was created. The SiTDB is the world’s first global open-source songbird trade database. It is one of the Monitor Songbird Lab’s main ongoing projects.

The SiTDB compiles all available national and international commercial trade data pertaining to live songbirds. Data from a wide variety of sources is collected for each species, including occurrence of trade, volumes, the domestic and/or international nature of trade, trade and trafficking routes and information on captive breeding records. By focusing on all available data (from peer-reviewed literature, published and unpublished notes by professionals in the fields of ornithology, aviculture and conservation, expert opinion, and direct observations in physical and online markets) for all songbird species, the SiTDB aims to fill knowledge gaps that have resulted from research- and data biases towards commonly traded species and species that are already protected in legal frameworks.

The SiTDB will provide a clear and accessible overview of our current knowledge of the commercial songbird trade and its conservation impact, generating information on current trends, priority species and urgent research needs. The SiTDB will be a freely available tool, to be used by both the conservation community and relevant authorities to support policy change, enforcement actions, demand reduction campaigns and conservation efforts.

If you are interested in supporting this ongoing research effort financially or are looking for a research collaboration, please let us know


June 2024: A newly emerging trade in New Guineas butcherbirds (Cracticinae) in Indonesia

March 2024: Songbirds in Trade Database (SiTDB) open access published

January 2024: Trade in native birds at Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok Thailand

December 2023: New paper on Black-throated Laughingthrush

March 2023: Working towards a brighter future for the Crested Jayshrike

July 2022: Legal and Illegal Songbird Trade in Lombok

April 2022: Incidence of protected and illegally sourced birds at bird markets in Makassar, Sulawesi

September 2021: Master thesis on the EU Import Ban on Wild Birds

May 2021: Interview with Boyd Leupen on the Sunda Laughingthrush

May 2021: Monitor on the Monitor Songbird Lab


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December 2023
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December 2022
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June 2021
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December 2020


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