The Breeding Bird Survey

The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is the main scheme for monitoring the population changes of the UK’s common breeding birds.

Celebrating 20 years of the BBS

The Breeding Bird Survey has been running for an impressive 20 years. Without volunteers, the survey, and its key achievements, would not be possible. Lets celebrate this BBS milestone.


BBS report 2013

The latest BBS report, out now!

In 2013, 2,854 volunteers contributed to the survey by covering 3,671 squares! This is just 47 squares short of the all-time record in 2007. One hundred and ten population trends were calculated for the UK in 2013 with the addition of Goosander which now meets the reporting criteria. This year, there is an additional four pages celebrating the 20th year of the survey. In the latest report you can read volunteer stories from the lowlands of Kent to the highlands of the Isle of Rum, find out about the long-term trends for Starling and Blackcap and find out how BBS data has influenced policy and measuring progress over the last 20 years. Enjoy!




The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) Annual Report

The 2013 UKBMS Report (pdf 2.84MB) is now available and includes data collected by BBS volunteers during the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey.


Grasshopper Warbler by Amy Lewis

Grasshopper Warbler by Amy Lewis

Recording detectability

This involves recording all birds you see or hear on your square. This was introduced, for the first time in 2014. Volunteers are able to optionally record how birds were detected (visually, by call or by song). This will help us to calculate the differences in detectability between males and females, and birds that are seen or heard. To find out more please read about the methods here.



We updated BBS-Online to accommodate recording detection methods. Find out about using the new system.


House Sparrows by John Harding

House Sparrows by John Harding

UK bird population estimates

Updated population estimates for all breeding and wintering birds in the UK were released in February 2013. BBS counts were used towards many of these estimates, both to update previous results and to calculate new estimates. Download the population estimates paper, or read more about using BBS counts to calculate bird densities.

Distance sampling paper


BBS distance sampling

Want to know how BBS distance sampling can be used to work out numbers of birds present, but not counted during surveys? Download this BTO News article: A bird recorded is worth two, three or four in the bush!