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

Life Cycle Spring 2016

Life Cycle Issue 3

The spring 2016 edition of Life Cycle, the BTO magazine for nest recorders and ringers, is now available online. This edition includes interpretation of the results from the 2015 breeding season (produced from data collected by nest recorders and CES and RAS ringers) and articles focusing on species including Starlings, Dippers, Wood Warblers, Stonechats and Wheatears.

Colin Shawyer on Barn Owls in 2016

The Barn Owl Conservation Network's Colin Shawyer give Barn Owl recorders advice on timing their visits to nests in 2016.

2015 online ringing and nest recording report

The online ringing report and accompanying phenology report have just been given a preliminary update to include 2015 data.


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.