Breeding Bird Survey
BBS monitors the population changes of 118 breeding bird species across the UK thanks to the dedication of almost 3,000 volunteers who survey their randomly selected 1-km square each spring.
The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is the main scheme for monitoring the population changes of the UK’s common and widespread breeding birds, producing population trends for 118 bird and nine mammal species.
The survey involves a recce visit and two early-morning spring visits to an allocated 1-km square, to count all the birds you see or hear while walking two 1-km lines across the square and record any nest counts for colonial nesting birds in the square.
You can optionally record mammals and visit your square later in the season to survey for butterflies. There is the option to return data on paper, via field recording forms or to submit your data on BBS-Online.
Time / skill required
Project timeline, contributions & findings
- February – March Forms sent or downloaded
- March Reconnaissance visit
- Early April – mid May Early visit
- Mid May – late June Late visit
- May – August Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey
- End of August Data entry deadline
Contributions & findings
Agri-environment effects on birds in Wales: Tir Gofal benefited woodland and hedgerow species
Associations between gamebird releases and general predators
Impacts of climate change on national biodiversity population trends
Read the latest BBS report
The Breeding Bird Survey started in 1994, and a report is produced every year containing population changes and other results from the scheme.
The 2022 Breeding Bird Survey Report reveals a mixed picture, especially for birds which breed in farmland habitats.Read the 2022 Breeding Bird Survey report
Count butterflies on your BBS square
Take part in the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey by making additional visits to your BBS square.
What does the future hold for birds in urban spaces?
You can make a difference. Donate to our Urban Appeal today.
Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey
We are teaming up with Butterfly Conservation again for another year of the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey to monitor butterflies across the general countryside, and we need volunteers to count...
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