English Winter Bird Survey

Yellowhammer. Jill Pakenham

Help build a picture of how our winter birds fare on lowland farmland in England

The purpose of this survey is to investigate how wintering birds and Brown Hare benefit from using Agri-environment scheme (AES) options in winter, which remains a major gap in our knowledge.  This work will complement existing studies that have successfully evaluated the effects of AES options on farmland birds and will further our understanding of why the majority of breeding farmland birds are still in decline.

What is required?

This survey will use entire network of Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) 1-km squares and their survey transects during winter. Up to four visits are required between 1 December 2018 and 31 March 2019, to record all birds and Brown Hare along a fixed route, by distance band and transect section (as for BBS).

Some basic, but essential, habitat recording will be required for each transect section to assess how much farmland feeding habitat (e.g. stubbles, wild bird covers, etc) is available during each winter visit. The main focus of this survey is lowland farmland in England, however, but we welcome volunteers to take up squares that contain all other habitats.

Further information

More detailed survey information, including instructions and recording forms are available on the EWBS methods page and all survey documents can be downloaded from the resources page.

DATA ENTRY is now available via BBS online.

EWBS survey organisers: David Norfolk and Greg Conway - email: winterbirds [at] bto.org

Natural England logoDEFRA logo

This survey is organised in partnership with Natural England and Defra.


The EWBS is largely based on the field methods of the Breeding Bird Survey, and their online data entry system. The Breeding Bird Survey is run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and is jointly funded by BTO, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) (on behalf of the statutory nature conservation agencies: Natural Resources Wales, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage), and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).   Thank you.

Time / skill required

  • 4 visits required between 1 December 2018 and 31 March 2019.
  • Ideally you will have fairly good bird identification skills.

Data collection is now complete for this project.

Project timeline, contributions & findings

Project timeline

  • 5/11/18 - Survey data entry application launched
  • 1/12/18 - Start of survey period
  • 31/3/19 - End of survey period

How to sign-up for the survey

If you are an exisiting BBS surveyor, you can sign-up for EWBS using your BBS squares from the BBS online landing page, after logging in.

Once signed-up for EWBS, login via BBS online and follow the links to the EWBS map to find and request a square.

EWBS map