Latest Research

Yellow Wagtail, photograph by Jill Pakenham

Might migrants introduce West Nile Virus?

Although not yet found in Britain, West Nile Virus (WNV), which can cause serious illness and even death in humans, has been reported as close as southern France. WNV can be carried by wild birds and Britain falls on major migration routes of birds travelling from countries where WNV is found. This study investigates the possibility that WNV could be introduced to Britain by migratory birds.

Willow Warbler, photograph by Jill Pakenham

Is Willow Warbler breeding changing with the times?

New research by the BTO and the University of East Anglia uses information from the Nest Record Scheme to investigate changes in Willow Warbler breeding between the 1960s and the present day. Despite advances in the timing of egg laying, there has been little change in Willow Warbler productivity over this period.

Lesser Redpoll, photograph by Chris Knights

Are Tree Pipit and Lesser Redpoll declines linked to changes in young woodland?

New research examining the relationship between the availability of young woodland and two declining species - the Tree Pipit and the Lesser Redpoll - indicates that while important, young woodland availability is not the primary driver of population trends in these species.

Corn Bunting, photograph by Mark R Taylor

Can birds chase a changing climate?

New research by the BTO has used detailed distribution maps of 122 species of bird to measure the ways that climate change could be affecting our avian populations. Species distributions were found to have changed, but the range shifts detected could not be explained by any single climatic factor, indicating that the distribution changes for British birds are complex, multi-directional and species specific.

Sparrowhawk, photograph by Edmund Fellowes

Applying new statistical methods to garden bird data

New research has developed a novel statistical technique for analysing data from the BTO Garden Bird Feeding Survey. This has revealed a correlation between the abundance of House Sparrows and their Sparrowhawk predators. The number of House Sparrows visiting garden feeding stations fell at feeding stations where the number of Sparrowhawks has increased over the last 40 years.