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

Upland BBS square in May 2015 by Pete Moore

BBS 2015 – half way there!

The 2015 Breeding Bird Survey season is reaching the half way mark already! Some BBS surveys are carried out later in the more northern areas, where spring takes a little longer to kick off – as illustrated here perfectly by Pete Moore with an image from his upland square on the 8th May in the Central Highlands! But for many BBS volunteers, the Early visits have been completed. 

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.