Hugh Hanmer

Senior Research Ecologist

Hugh is a Research Ecologist in the Terrestrial Ecology team working primarily on urban birds and demographic data. In addition, Hugh also acted as the Coordinator for BTO Project Owl and as the National Organiser for all associated surveys.

Interests & Responsibilities

Hugh has a background in avian urban ecology having undertaken a PhD at the University of Reading. This focused primarily on the direct effects of bird feeding on aspects such as competition, predation and disease transmission, though the research also took in the effects of urbanisation on breeding success and domestic cats. Carrying on from this he is currently leading a BTO study in and around Birmingham on local garden bird urban/rural movements between the winter and breeding season. He is also involved in the analysis and reporting of several long term agri-environment studies on farmland birds.

Hugh is responsible for the coordination for all aspects of BTO Project Owl including leading the design and analysis of several planned and ongoing Owl surveys and other studies starting from Autumn 2018.

Other Information

Prior to undertaking his current role and following his PhD, Hugh spent a summer as a RSPB Research Assistant working on Corn Bunting breeding success and Swift survey projects. He started bird ringing at a young age and currently holds an A permit with a Trainer’s endorsement with extensive experience of ringing throughout the UK and abroad from the Tropics to the Arctic Circle. Since moving to start work at BTO HQ he has got involved in a number of local ringing activities both through BTO work projects and as a volunteer.


PhD “Unintended Consequences: How Human Intervention Affects the Ecology of Urban Birds”, People and Wildlife Research Group, University of Reading 2014-2017.

MRes Environmental Biology, University of St Andrews 2012-2013.

BSc Zoology (Hons), University of St Andrews 2008-2012.

A permit bird ringer.

Recent BTO Publications

Hanmer, H.J. & Leech, D.I. 2024. Breeding periods of hedgerow-nesting birds in England. Research Report no. 762. ISBN: 978-1-912642-58-8
Boersch-Supan, P.H., Hanmer, H.J. & Robinson, R.A. 2024. Extended moult phenology models improve inferences about moult duration and timing. Ornithology View at journal website (DOI: 10.1093/ornithology/ukae003)
Hanmer, H.J., Dadam, D. & Siriwardena, G.M. 2022. Evidence that rural wintering populations supplement suburban breeding populations. Bird Study Link to publication View at journal website (DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2022.2139814)
Hanmer, H.J., Cunningham, A.A., John, S.K., Magregor, S.K., Robinson, R.A., Seilern-Moy, K., Siriwardena, G.M. & Lawson, B. 2022. Habitat-use influences severe disease-mediated population declines in two of the most common garden bird species in Great Britain. Scientific Reports 12 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-18880-8)
Hanmer, H.J., Boersch-Supan, P.H. & Robinson, R.A. 2022. Differential changes in life cycle-event phenology provide a window into regional population declines. Biology Letters View at journal website (DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2022.0186)

Other Publications

Hanmer, H. J., Thomas, R. L. and Fellowes, M. D. E. 2018 Introduced Grey Squirrels subvert supplementary feeding of suburban wild birds. Landscape and Urban Planning 177: 10-18

Hanmer, H. J., Thomas, R. L. and Fellowes, M. D. E. 2017 Urbanisation influences range size of the domestic cat (Felis catus): consequences for conservation. Journal of Urban Ecology 3: jux014.

Hanmer, H. J., Thomas, R. L., Beswick, G. J. F., Collins, B. P. and Fellowes, M. D. E. 2017 Use of anthropogenic material affects bird nest arthropod community structure: influence of urbanisation, and consequences for ectoparasites and fledging success. Journal of Ornithology 158: 1045-1059.

Hanmer, H. J., Thomas, R. L. and Fellowes, M. D. E. 2017. Provision of supplementary food for wild birds may increase the risk of local nest predation. Ibis 159: 158-167.

Dunning, J., Hanmer, H., and Christmas, S. E. 2014 Hybridisation between House Martin Delichon urbicum and Sand Martin Riparia riparia: a new observation and review of past occurrences as a case study into hybrid reporting rates. Ringing & Migration 29: 86-89.

Content Related to Hugh Hanmer