The Nest Record Scheme

Top: A Blackbird nest in a pub beer garden. Bottom left: checking a
Tit box. Bottom right: attending a nest recording course

The Nest Record Scheme (NRS) gathers vital information on the breeding success of Britain's birds by asking volunteers to find and follow the progress of individual birds' nests.

Anyone can be a nest recorder. Some people watch a single nest box in their back garden while others find and monitor nests of a whole range of species. Registering to take part is easy and there are lots of resources to help you get started—click the link below to find out more.

Find out how to take part in NRS

To monitor some specially protected species, it's necessary to obtain a Schedule 1 permit in addition to registering as a nest recorder.

As with all BTO surveys, the welfare of the birds comes first, and therefore all nest recorders follow the NRS Code of Conduct, a protocol designed to ensure that monitoring a nest does not influence its outcome.

The data collected for NRS are used to produce trends in breeding performance, which help us to identify species that may be declining because of problems at the nesting stage. These trends are are updated every year and published in the BirdTrends report. NRS data also allow us to measure the impacts of pressures such as climate change on bird productivity. Please see the results page for more information.

Latest news

2014 online ringing and nest recording report

The online ringing data summary tool has just been updated to include 2014 data plus a number of new features. Alongside a brand new report that uses ringing and nest recording parameters such as first egg date and brood patch to show timing of breeding and moult , it is now possible to look up NRS totals by individual counties and view the top counties for nest recording.

Life Cycle Spring 2015

Introducing Life Cycle

The first edition of Life Cycle, the BTO magazine for Ringers and Nest Recorders, is now available to download as a PDF or to read online. The bi-annual magazine replaces the old scheme newsletters, back issues of which are still available via the following links - Ringing News (available on the ringers-only pages of the website), NRS NewsCES News and RAS News. Life Cycle includes practical ringing and nest finding tips, details of novel techniques and summaries of successful monitoring projects that demonstrate the initiative, hard work and skill of existing volunteers, while hopefully inspiring others to set up their own studies. We hope you enjoy reading it!

More for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Woodpecker researcher (and Ringing Committee chair) Ken Smith is appealing for information about Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nest sites. The difficulty of inspecting cavitities in trees means that there are probably nests that are known about but aren't being monitored for the Nest Record Scheme. To help with research into the species' decline, Ken is now appealing for any information on active sites, including those can't be inspected for contents.


The BTO would like to thank the network of volunteers who take part in the Nest Record Scheme. Without their hard work and enthusiasm the Trust would not be able to monitor the health of the UK’s breeding birds each year.