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. It is a national volunteer project aimed at keeping track of changes in the breeding populations of widespread bird species in the UK. Wild bird populations are an important indicator of the health of the countryside, and knowing to what extent bird populations are increasing or decreasing is fundamental to bird conservation.

Latest BBS news

BBS coverage map 2014

Take part in the BBS - the importance of coverage in remote and upland areas

Now is the time to take on a BBS square, ready for the 2015 season! This will be the 22nd consecutive year of the survey and as the number of squares covered continues to grow, it increases the chance of scarcer species reaching the reporting threshold, as well as continuing this long-term dataset. All BBS squares are valuable to the survey, wherever they are, but we are currently underrepresented in remote and upland areas and volunteers are particularly sought-after in these areas. 

BBS surveyor by Jill Tardivel

BBS volunteer stories

Over 2,800 volunteers contribute to the Breeding Bird Survey annually. This fantastic effort has been recognised with an insight into three BBS squares, one in the uplands of Scotland, one in the lowlands of Kent and a third in a house estate in Middle England!

We have also collected some thoughts from just some of the 150 dedicated BBS volunteers who have been involved with the survey every year for the last two decades.

Grasshopper Warbler. Photograph by Amy Lewis

Recording detectability in BBS

Volunteers are able to optionally record how birds were first detected (visually, by call or by song) on their BBS square. This was introduced, for the first time in 2014, and 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.