Get involved in BTO surveys in Northern Ireland

Below are outlines on the core BTO surveys that are undertaken in Northern Ireland. We also take part in other surveys that are relevant to the birds in Northern Ireland.


The Breeding Bird Survey is extremely important for environmental monitoring in Northern Ireland. Approximately 120 squares (randomly selected 1km squares) are surveyed each year in NI. While this is good, we actually would like many more squares surveyed – 150 or more! A reasonable level of identification skill is needed for BBS, but many people hone their bird ID skills through doing the survey. You can learn more from the BBS survey pages, and if you want to help, then please contact your local Regional Organiser through the NI Contacts page.


The Wetland Bird Survey is undertaken through the winter months, and in Northern Ireland monitors waterbirds on Strangford Lough, Belfast Lough, Larne Lough, Lough Foyle, Lough Neagh and the Erne system. It is the survey that requires the greatest level of identification skill, and also considerable endurance to cope with winter weather. If you think you can help have a look at the WeBS survey pages.


Garden Birdwatch is a survey that suits all levels of identification ability. We need more people to take part in the survey so that we can better monitor how the garden birds in Northern Ireland are doing. This is not a once a year survey, but rather it helps you keep track of the birds in your garden throughout the whole year.  We particularly need more people in the west of the province, west of the Bann. If you want to know more check out the GBW survey pages, and contact our GBW ambasssador, Mark Beal for any help or advice.

Heronries Census

Herons (or ''Her'n Crans'') are top predators in the aquatic environment and as such the health of their population reflects the health of their environment. We have therefore been monitoring them since 1928. Some parts of the province are well covered while others are not – we particularly need more surveyors in some western areas near the border, but also on the estuaries of the Foyle and Roe, and even the Lagan Valley is sparsely recorded. If you can help please look at the Heronries Census pages, and contact Ian Enlander, who is the survey coordinator for Northern Ireland.

The Bird Ringing Scheme

There are a number of bird ringers in Northern Ireland, including a few trainers. It would be best to review the ringing scheme pages if you are interested. The main opportunity for experiencing bird ringing in Northern Ireland is through the Copeland Bird Observatory.

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