The British Trust for Ornithology

Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside:
their conservation status 2001

Trends in numbers and breeding performance for UK birds

S R Baillie, H Q P Crick, D E Balmer, L P Beaven, I S Downie, S N Freeman, D I Leech,
J H Marchant, D G Noble, M J Raven, A P Simpkin, R M Thewlis and C V Wernham

This website is a "one-stop-shop" for information about the population status of our common terrestrial birds. With one page per species, users can quickly find all the key information about trends in population size and breeding performance over the period 1968-1999 as measured by BTO monitoring schemes.

For each species, we provide:

  • General information concerning species' conservation listings
  • A brief summary of observed changes in the size of the population and information concerning the possible causes of these changes
  • A series of graphs and tables showing the trends and changes in population size and breeding performance over the past 31 years
  • Trends calculated from BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data, not only for the UK as a whole but also for each of its constituent countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • A system of Alerts that highlight population declines of greater than 25% or greater than 50% that have occurred over the past 5 years, 10 years, 25 years and 31 years.
Marsh Tit © G H Higginbotham

The website covers the majority of British breeding birds, over 100 species in total, but excludes both colonial seabirds, which are well covered by the JNCC's Seabird Monitoring Programme (Thompson et al. 1998), and those species that are already covered by the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (Ogilvie 1996). Most wintering populations of waterfowl are well covered by the Wetland Bird Survey annual reports (eg Pollitt et al. 2000).

Starling © Derek Belsey

The following species exhibit rapid declines (of over 50%) or moderate declines (between 25 and 49%) over the 31-year period 1968-99 as measured by the Common Birds Census (CBC):

It should be noted that CBC plots are concentrated in lowland areas, and as such may not cover a major proportion of the UK population of species associated with alternative habitats, including Woodcock, Lapwing, Tree Pipit and Lesser Redpoll mentioned above. Reported trends for these species may be unrepresentative of the conservation status of the population as a whole.

The following species show rapid declines (of over 50%) or moderate declines (between 25 and 49%) over the 24-year period 1975-99, as measured by the Waterways Bird Survey (WBS):

Yellowhammer © Tommy Holden

A number of species have undergone substantial population increases, more than doubling, over the same time period:

Again, it should be noted that trends derived from CBC data for Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Buzzard and Reed Warbler may be unrepresentative of the conservation status of the whole population (see above).

We have not updated the Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside website using data for 2001, because coverage was very sparse in that year due to access limitations resulting from Foot and Mouth Disease. The next update of this website, based on monitoring data up to the 2002 breeding season, will be published in late autumn 2003.

We welcome comments that will help us to improve future editions of this website.

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This report should be cited as:
Baillie, S.R., Crick, H.Q.P., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Leech, D.I., Marchant, J.H.,
Noble, D.G., Raven, M.J., Simpkin, A.P., Thewlis, R.M. and Wernham, C.V.
(2002) Breeding Birds in the Wider
Countryside: their conservation status 2001. BTO Research Report No. 278. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

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This page last updated: 21 April, 2008

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