Marsh International Award for Ornithology

01 Oct 2013 | No. 2013-41

The first International Award for Ornithology was presented to Lars Svensson yesterday evening (30 October) by Professor Ian Newton, BTO Chairman, and Jo Winyard and Professor Bill Sutherland, on behalf of The Marsh Christian Trust.

Lars Svensson is best known for his Identification Guide to European Passerines, used by bird ringers across the continent to determine the identification, age and gender of birds when caught for ringing.  The book was first published in English in 1970 and Lars is now working on a fifth edition.  Within the wider birdwatching community, Lars Svensson will be recognised as the lead author of the Collins Bird Guide. 

Generations of BTO ringers have benefited greatly from the accumulated knowledge that is available to them in ‘Svensson’ and it seems highly appropriate that the first international award should recognise his unique role in the lives of thousands of our BTO volunteers.   As Jacquie Clark, Head of the BTO Ringing Scheme, wrote in the document that was presented to Council in support of this nomination 'These books are the passerine-ringers’ 'Bibles', without which our knowledge of different ages and sexes of species would be much poorer'.

BTO Director, Dr Andy Clements said: "Lars Svensson is a giant of European ornithology – a man who has had a huge impact upon bird ringers and birdwatchers in this country.   We are delighted that he was able to collect the BTO’s first Marsh International Award for Ornithology in person."

Lars Svensson commented: "I feel very honoured to have been chosen for the first BTO Marsh International Award for Ornithology. All I have achieved in ornithology has been done for the love of birds and for the personal strive for increased knowledge. To be honoured for that comes as a pleasant surprise and bonus."

The Marsh International Award for Ornithology is made to an individual scientist whose work on the international stage has had significant influence on British ornithology, especially as reflected in the work of BTO scientists and volunteers.

Notes for Editors

  1. The award was one of five made at the SWLA’s Natural Eye annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.  The BTO is very grateful to the Society of Wildlife Artists and the Mall Galleries for providing this opportunity to present these awards and to highlight the success of the last year.  For more information please visit
  2. The Marsh Trust runs a portfolio of awards with a number of internationally and nationally recognised organisations. Recipients of Marsh Awards range from scientists working in conservation biology and ecology to authors and sculptors from the arts world, and those who give their time unselfishly to work with the young, the elderly, people with mental health issues and for our heritage.
  3. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.

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