BTO is appealing for help monitoring breeding birds this season

For just two mornings a year on your birding schedule, you could contribute to bird conservation by participating in the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) or the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS). These surveys only take a few hours and are often finished by 9am, leaving the rest of the day for your normal birdwatching activities – warmed by the knowledge you have just contributed to the birdwatching we pass the majority of our time to enjoy. (or sometimes frustrated by!).

Both of these long-term monitoring programs contribute directly to research and publications such as Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC) – flagging species in real trouble or showing how policy and land management can improve population status. . Through long-term monitoring informing the BoCC lists, the greenfinch has been flagged as being of very high conservation concern, having been redlisted in the latest BoCC assessment. Perhaps more surprisingly, the Common Moorhen has moved from the Green List to the Orange List, signaling that this species requires some attention.


It may come as a surprise to many that the common moorhen is now Amber listed in the UK (R Thew).

Thanks to their favorable conservation statuses, the White-tailed Eagle and the Eurasian Bittern have turned from red to amber. Being able to track species population changes in this way is essential for targeting conservation efforts and policies. Drawing attention to people in trouble can only help protect these birds. And that’s where you can help by participating in either BBS or WBBS.

Data from these surveys also contribute to European population monitoring and scientific research, ranging from single species studies to landscape changes, future predictions, policy decision guidance and conservation efforts. And much more. Examples of research using BBS and WBBS data can be found in the BBS Annual Reports available on the BBS Publications website. Yet these research, publications and assessments are not the primary use of BBS and WBBS data – the main reason is to track population trends over time and trends for 117 species are calculated each year using data from these two early morning survey visits.

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To learn more about these two important, long-term but low time-commitment surveys, and to participate in them, please visit the Breeding Bird Survey and Waterway Breeding Bird Survey web pages, contact us and get that warm, fuzzy feeling of counting birds for conservation – then go bird watching some more!

For a short-term commitment, but a more adventurous option, why not consider a one-time visit to an Upland Rovers place?

The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey is a partnership jointly funded by the BTO, RSPB and JNCC with fieldwork carried out by volunteers. This partnership also includes the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS).