State of the UK's Birds
The State of the UK's Birds report (SUKB) draws together results from annual, periodic and one-off surveys. It aims to give an up-to-date overview of the health of bird populations in the UK and its Overseas Territories.
SUKB 2012 celebrates the vital role of volunteers in bird monitoring. Their huge contribution underpins bird conservation in the UK.
- Two and a half thousand volunteers count birds in 1 km squares for the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) each year. This allows us to track the trends in over 100 species, including the steep declines in Willow Tits, Turtle Doves and Wood Warblers – all down by over 60% in just 15 years.
- Volunteers collect data that allow us to produce wild bird indicators, so revealing the broader picture of trends for the UK's birds. In 2010, the farmland bird indicator fell to its lowest ever level, to just half of what it was in 1970.
- Volunteers have been counting nesting Grey Herons for the last 85 years – the longest-running monitoring of any bird species in the world!
- The Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP) compiles records submitted mainly by volunteer birdwatchers through the county bird recorders network. The addition of species such as the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Arctic Skua to the Panel’s list reflects growing concern for some woodland birds and seabirds.
- By counting 2,200 wetland sites at monthly intervals for the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), volunteers help to track populations of wintering waterbirds. These data have revealed the recent and worrying declines in many species, after decades of increases.
Garden birdwatch activities and the engagement of the public in citizen science are proving very important for collecting data and
gathering support for conservation. We report on this and the role of the BTO’s Garden BirdWatch in monitoring disease in birds.
SUKB is produced by a coalition of three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – the RSPB, BTO and the WWT – and the UK Government’s statutory nature conservation agencies – Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Natural England (NE), Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).