Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how the British Trust for Ornithology (‘BTO’) complies with its data protection obligations as a Data Controller. You can always access this statement from the bottom of every page on our website or by requesting it directly.

If you have any queries, then you can contact us via:

  • Email: dataprotection [at]
  • Phone: 01842 750050
  • Address: The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, United Kingdom, IP24 2PU

BTO is committed to respecting the privacy of all visitors to its website. We have structured our website so that, in general, you can visit BTO on the web without identifying yourself or disclosing any personal information.

Once you choose to provide us with any information by which you can be identified, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy policy.

Who we are

BTO is a charity with a vision of a world inspired by birds and informed by science. We harness the skills and passion of birdwatchers to advance our understanding of ornithology and produce impartial science, communicated so that it can be of benefit to everyone.

The British Trust for Ornithology

  • Registered Charity Number: 216652 (England & Wales), SC039193 (Scotland)
  • Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered in England and Wales No 357284
  • Registered Office The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU.

The charity has a trading subsidiary company, BTO Services Limited, which donates all its available profits to the BTO. This company also trades under the trading names of ‘BTO’, ‘BTO Consulting’, ‘Combined Ecology’ and ‘Porzana’.

BTO Services Limited
Company Limited by Shares, Registered in England and Wales No 2907282
Registered Office The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU.

BTO is registered under the Data Protection Act 1998 (Registration No Z547079X) and has given all appropriate notifications to the Information Commissioner.

We are subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR). The Privacy Officer for the BTO group is the Director of Services.

The information we collect about you

BTO can only continue to make a difference for birds and deliver rigorous scientific research with the active support of our volunteers, supporters, donors and partners.

In order to support our charitable activities in the most effective manner and to ensure that we communicate with you in the way that you prefer, we may collect and hold personal information about you in the following ways:

Personal information that you may provide to us:

Your name, address, e-mail address and other relevant information when you join BTO, enquire about BTO membership, register to join a survey, become or express an interest in becoming a volunteer, report a sighting or ring-recovery, make a donation, purchase goods or services, request data or make general enquiries.

Financial information to support the processing of payment information, such as credit/debit card or direct debit details; whether donations qualify for Gift Aid, or if discounts and concessions are claimed.

Information regarding your personal or professional interests, demographics (such as age or gender) and recent and past experiences with BTO.

Personal information created through your engagement with BTO:

Your involvement in our surveys creates data which may be classed as personal information (as an observation can identify where you were on a particular date).

Our Regional Network of volunteers may collect information relating to their interactions with you whilst carrying out their role supporting BTO.

Should you decide to respond positively to one of our fundraising appeals we will keep a record of any financial contributions you may make, not least so that we can acknowledge your support in an appropriate way and take note of any particular interests that you might have.

Through research and analysis of information generated through your interactions with BTO, we may build a profile of your current or likely interests, skills and preferences which helps us decide which of our communications are likely to be of particular interest to you in future (although you will always be able to opt out of such communications if you would prefer).

On our website we make use of cookies in order to provide you with the best possible user experience and to allow you to make use of certain functions (such as being able to shop online). This may lead to the transfer of information classed as personal data to BTO. For further information please see: Our policy on cookies and what we use them for.

If you subscribe to receive an email newsletter, your response to emails you receive may be logged, allowing us to determine, for example, if email is opened and if links within the email have been visited.

This information is used to help assess the effectiveness of such emails so that we can improve them and may occasionally be used to send relevant further communications in response to your actions (e.g. clicking a particular link) or inactions (e.g. not opening an email), in accordance with your contact preferences.

You can unsubscribe from recurring email communications at any time using the unsubscribe link contained in each message, or by updating your contact preferences (by contacting us directly or via your My BTO account settings).

Our premises are monitored by CCTV and you may therefore be recorded when you visit us. CCTV is there to help provide security and to protect both you and BTO.

CCTV will only be viewed when necessary (e.g. to detect or prevent crime) and footage is only stored temporarily. Unless it is flagged for review or being used as evidence of potential criminal activity, CCTV will be recorded over.

BTO complies with the Information Commissioner’s Office CCTV Code of Practice, and we put up notices so you know when CCTV is in use.

Personal information received from third parties:

From time to time BTO might undertake both scientific and promotional activities with partner organisations and such activities might lead to the transfer to us of personal data.

We may receive personal data from subcontractors or suppliers who provide us with services, such as fulfilling product purchases, sending out magazine mailings, handling email delivery or promotional campaigns.

We might collect publicly available information about certain types of supporters, although this only occurs in a minority of instances (e.g. recognising people with influence).

What we may do with the information we collect

BTO will never sell your personal data, and will only ever share it with other individuals or organisations where necessary and where guarantees as to its privacy and security have been provided, or where you have agreed for this to happen.

When you interact with BTO and have not advised us to the contrary, you are agreeing that we may use your personal information for the purposes set out in this statement.

BTO will only process your personal data where it has a lawful basis for doing so (as specified under Article 6 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation - GDPR). In most cases, the lawful basis is that processing such data is necessary for the legitimate interests of BTO.

BTO seeks to balance the preservation of your rights under the GDPR & the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) with the BTO’s legitimate interest in promoting and managing volunteering activities associated with the recording of birds, other wildlife and their associated habitats.

This activity is central to the achievement of our charitable objects and delivers scientific rigour to our survey endeavours. We reinforce your rights by offering you the option not to receive information linked to this purpose.

If you feel your personal rights override our legitimate interests, you will have the opportunity to ask us not to use your information in such a way.

In other cases, the legal basis for processing your personal data may be:

  • where you have given clear consent for us to do so for a specific purpose;
  • where the processing is necessary for a contract BTO has with you, or because you have asked us to take specific steps before entering into a contract;
  • where the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life;
  • where the processing is necessary for BTO to perform a task in the public interest or for its official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law;
  • where the processing is necessary for BTO to otherwise comply with the law.

Where we process personal data on the basis of our legitimate interests, we do so for the following purposes:

  • to manage members, volunteers, donors, staff, partnership relationships, and commercial interactions;
  • to ensure the effectiveness and rigour associated with the operation and results of our surveys and campaigns, including contacting you to validate and/or verify your data;
  • to provide you with feedback on the surveys you have contributed to;
  • to enable us periodically to send you information about our work which we think you may find interesting, using the contact channels you have indicated you prefer (you may opt out of receiving such communications at any time);

From time to time, we may also use this information to contact you in connection with fundraising appeals and to generally further BTO’s charitable objectives. We may contact you by email, phone, text or mail.

You may specify by which channels (if any) you would prefer to receive this information at any time, most easily via the MyBTO page of the BTO website (alternatively, please contact us directly).

If you are under 18 years of age and wish to engage with BTO projects or memberships then we will require permission from a parent or guardian to store and, in some cases, to use your personal data.

If we obtain personal data from you whilst you are under 18, this information may remain associated with your profile when you reach the age of 18. After this point you will be able to manage your personal data preferences alone.

We may, with your permission, carry out analyses of the personal information we collect about you and add publicly available information to create a profile of your interests, preferences and level of potential donations so that we can contact you in the most appropriate way and with the most relevant information.

In doing so, we may use profiling techniques or use third party screening companies to provide us with general information about you. Such information is compiled using only publicly available data or information that you have already provided to us.

We would anticipate doing this only rarely and selectively, and will only do this if you have given us permission to do so. You will be able to opt out of your data being used for profiling and screening techniques at any time by contacting us.

We may, with your permission, release your personal information to organisations that help to sponsor surveys or income generating components of BTO’s work, for marketing purposes. This will only be done under a contract which imposes strict requirements on the  third party organisation to keep your personal information confidential and secure.

Justification of the Legal Basis for Processing Personal Information

  • Volunteering: BTO seeks to balance the preservation of your rights under the GDPR & PECR alongside BTO’s legitimate interest in promoting and managing volunteering activities associated with the recording of birds. This activity is central to the achievement of BTO’s charitable objects. We reinforce data subjects’ rights by offering data subjects the opportunity not to receive information linked to this purpose.
  • Trading: BTO processes personal information in connection with the sale of products and services provided by BTO to BTO members, supporters, customers and others, entered into by way of a contract for goods or services. We reinforce data subjects’ rights by offering data subjects the opportunity not to receive information linked to this purpose.
  • Membership: BTO processes personal information in connection with the provision of membership services and products provided by way of a contract entered into with BTO members and/or those individuals purchasing for themselves or for other parties. We reinforce data subjects’ rights by offering data subjects the opportunity not to receive information linked to this purpose.
  • Donations: BTO seeks to balance the preservation of your rights under the GDPR & PECR alongside the BTO’s legitimate interest in seeking support for our charitable objectives concerning birds, other wildlife and their habitats. Income from appeals enables BTO to fund charitable projects that cannot be otherwise resourced. We reinforce data subjects’ rights by offering data subjects the opportunity not to receive information linked to this purpose.
  • General Information: BTO may acquire and retain personal information in order to provide general information, education and knowledge about the projects, services and resourcing of the charity. BTO balances this legitimate interest with the rights of data subjects under the GDPR & PECR. We reinforce data subjects’ rights by offering data subjects the opportunity not to receive information linked to these general purposes.

How we store your information

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect.

We ensure that  encryption is used where appropriate, including when transferring credit card information. We are certified to the relevant PCI compliance standards to ensure the security of customer credit card data, and safely handle payments made to us using PCI-compliant payment services.

The majority of our operations are based in the UK and we store the bulk of our data within the European Union. Some organisations that provide services to us may transfer personal data outside of the EEA; we will only allow them to do this where those organisations assure us that they comply with a regulatory environment that is compatible with the GDPR.

We will only store your personal information for as long as it is required for the purposes it was collected for. How long information will be stored for depends on the nature of the information collected and what it is being used for.

We will undertake regular reviews of the personal information that we hold and will delete personal information that is no longer required to be held (whilst maintaining a record of any preferences expressed by you not to be contacted).

Your rights

Whilst we collect and process personal information in order to undertake our work, BTO very much wishes to protect your rights and here we set out a brief description of them.

You have the right to confirmation as to whether or not we have your personal information and, if we do, the right to obtain a copy of the personal information we hold (this is known as a Subject Access Request). Should you wish to make such a request, please contact us as detailed above.

You have the right to request that we remove some or all of your personal information (though this may not apply where it is necessary for us to continue to use the data for a lawful reason). If you wish to make such a request, please contact us as detailed above.

You have the right to have any inaccurate personal information corrected; and/or to specify some of the purposes for which we may contact you; and/or to specify some of the channels by which we may contact you. You can do this at any time via your MyBTO account page or, if you prefer, by contacting us directly as detailed above.

If you believe that any aspects of your data protection or privacy rights have been infringed by BTO, you can complain to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office which regulates and enforces data protection law in the UK. Details of how to do this can be found at

Young people

BTO wishes to support the energy, enthusiasm and philanthropic spirit that young people demonstrate as they engage with birds and the natural world.

On occasion we might offer the opportunity for young people to engage in events or competitions as part of their involvement with BTO. Similarly, young people might actively engage in interactive participation with BTO in various social media settings.

From time to time, through our work with schools, youth groups and through youth membership we might offer the opportunity for young people to engage in sponsorship or volunteering projects in support of BTO’s work.

If, in connection with any of these types of activities, BTO publishes personal information about a person under the age of 18, we will limit that information to a picture, the first name, surname and age of that person.

Parental permission: If a person is under 18 years of age then we will need permission from a parent or guardian for them to enter one of our competitions, engage in any form of sponsorship activity or to share a picture, photo or story with us.

In order to donate to BTO or to purchase goods or services from us you need to be over 18 years of age.

Young Birder Membership: Where a Young Birder member wishes to join as a full adult BTO member some of the personal data we hold about that individual (e.g. Young Birder history) will be carried over to their adult member profile. Membership requests received directly from a person under the age of 18 years will require parental permission.

Links to external sites

Please note that our website may contain links to enable you to visit other websites of interest easily. However, once you have used these links to leave our site you should note that we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide whilst visiting such sites, which are not governed by this privacy statement. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

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