How to apply for a BTO Research Grant

The BTO provides grants of up to £500, to support ornithological research projects by BTO members, and holders of BTO ringing permits only.

We welcome applications relating to projects on all aspects of field ornithology, with preference for those most relevant to the BTO’s core research activities. Priority will be given to well designed research projects that are likely to produce publishable results. Support may also be provided for expeditions and other data gathering activities that will contribute to major long-term or large-scale datasets held by the BTO.

Preference is given to work in Britain, Ireland and other parts of the Afro-Palaearctic flyway; work elsewhere may be supported, but only if it involves species that migrate to Britain and Ireland or if it is otherwise relevant to British and Irish ornithology. Ethical criteria will be taken into account in judging whether a grant will be made.

Our priority is to support work by amateurs but we encourage collaboration with professionals, including BTO staff. The lead applicant should normally be an amateur but applications incorporating professional co-applicants who have undertaken to assist with study design and analysis are encouraged.

Applications by professionals are given lower priority unless the work is carried out as a spare-time activity or involves substantial participation by volunteers. If you are a professional you must complete the additional questions on the application form concerning the extent of any linkages between the project and work undertaken as part of your job.

Student projects are unlikely to be funded under the BTO Research Grant scheme but the committee may exceptionally award grants to projects that are inadequately supported from educational sources. If the project is to be used in part fulfilment of the requirements for a degree or similar professional qualification, you should state that under point 10 of the application form and explain why your university, college of funding body is not covering the costs.

BTO staff are not eligible to be lead applicants, but they may be co-applicants as noted above.

Applications may be for projects lasting up to three years. We are happy to consider applications for the continuation of projects that have received support previously. Such applications should explain the benefits of continuing the project for a further period and what additional findings are likely to be produced.

Whether or not a project has been supported previously will not influence the success or failure of subsequent applications, since what is awarded in a particular round of applications depends largely on the level of competition in that round.

  • Funding is not provided for food, accommodation, educational fees or for workshops.

All grantees are required to submit a report of the work undertaken in electronic format. Reports presented in the form of draft or published manuscripts are encouraged. Reports must be submitted within six months of the end of the project period for which support has been provided. Further details of requirements concerning the timing and general content of reports will be given to successful applicants.

Published papers, reports to other organisations and any other outputs should include an acknowledgement of the support from the BTO. Other specific conditions may be included in the award letter.

Detailed below are just some of the projects that BTO Research Grants have helped to fund in recent years:

  • Monitoring feeding patterns of Common Redstarts in natural nest sites using trail cameras
  • Effects of extreme weather events on the breeding productivity of blue tits and great tits
  • Investigating habitat and landscape associations of wintering woodcock in the contemporary agricultural landscape using thermal imaging from small-unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Monitoring the breeding success of Willow Tits
  • The use of isotypes in identifying provenance of eastern winter Phylloscopus warblers in west Cornwall

Applications are considered annually with a closing date of 15 December, by a committee comprising the Chair of the Ringing Committee, a scientist from BTO Board, and two members of staff appointed by the Directors of Science. Current members of the Committee are Dr Stuart Newson (Convenor), Dawn Balmer, Stuart Bearhop and Lucy Wright.

Applications should be submitted electronically using the form available


here (DOC, 95.50 KB)
. They should occupy no more than four sides of A4 paper; further supporting documents may be submitted but will not necessarily be circulated to the committee.

If you wish to discuss your plans, or how to word your application, with a member of the BTO staff, please contact the appropriate staff member well in advance of the closing date.

If you need advice but are unsure who to ask, please contact  stuart.newson [at] (Stuart Newson) in the first instance.

Applications should normally be submitted by email to mandy.andrews [at] (S)stuart.newson [at] (tuart Newson).

Alternatively you may submit your application by post to:

Stuart Newson
BTO Research Grants
The Nunnery
IP24 2PU

December 2022

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