Other GBW projects

Garden BirdWatch is not just about the weekly recording that we carry out. A national network of observers provides us with an excellent opportunity to address other questions concerning how birds and other creatures use gardens and garden resources. Here are some of the projects we have carried out since Garden BirdWatch was launched in 1995. 

Abnormal Plumage Survey – ACTIVE and ongoing

Have you seen a bird with unusual plumage pigmentation in your garden? If so, we would love to hear about it through our Abnormal Plumage Survey. Visit the survey to find out more, see pictures and to submit your sightings.

Big Garden Beak Watch - ACTIVE and ongoing

In response to an increased number of reports to the BTO of birds with beak deformities, the Garden Ecology Team has initiated Big Garden Beak Watch. We are not sure why reports have increased in frequency and we are keen to find out more. In particular, we want to know: (a) Do types of deformities vary between species? (b) Are deformities more common in some regions rather than others? and (c) What causes different types of deformity? Please help us to find out more by getting involved >>>

Garden Wildlife Health - ACTIVE and ongoing

Garden Wildlife Health (GWH) is a collaborative project between the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Froglife, which aims to monitor the health of, and identify disease threats to, British wildlife. Our particular focus is on garden birds, amphibians, reptiles and hedgehogs. For this, we count on the help of the public to submit reports of sick or dead wildlife and to send in samples for analysis. Find out more about Garden Wildlife Health.

Goldfinch Feeding Survey - ENDED February 2015

The Goldfinch Feeding Survey is being undertaken to investigate the factors behind the increase of Goldfinches in gardens and uncover their feeding habits. Understanding how birds use the resources in our gardens means that we can provide for them when times are hard. Find out more here

Garden Rook Survey – ENDED December 2014

The Garden Rook Survey ran autumn and winter 2014 and looked at the behaviour of Rooks in gardens. It's aim was to see how they transfer their intelligence to everyday problems such as feeding from bird feeders and social interaction. Find out more here.

Early Bird Survey - ENDED January 2014

In 2004, the BTO’s Shortest Day Survey revealed that urban birds could afford to get up later than their rural counterparts due to increased temperatures in towns and cities. However, in studies elsewhere in the world, light pollution has been shown to have an important effect on the behaviour of birds. The BTO investigated this relationship through the Early Bird Survey. You can find out more here.

Birds and Garden Berries Study - ENDED March 2013

The Birds and Garden Berries Study ran from the end of September 2012 through until the end of March 2013. It was the first ever large scale study of how birds use the berries and other fruits found in the nation’s gardens. Find out more here.

Garden Blackcap Survey – ENDED February 2013

Bird feeders appear to be really important to Blackcaps over winter, helping them to survive and, in the process, causing a change in their migratory habits. But what are they eating, are there more males or females seen and are they really garden bullies? This survey set out to find out the answer. Find out how we got on.

BTO Lesser Redpoll survey - ENDED 2011

Thanks to all of you who participated in the Lesser Redpoll survey, which was carried out over the 2010-2011 winter. With the numbers of this species coming into gardens on the up, the survey's results have provided an intriguing insight into the probable role of nyjer seed in supporting this influx. Results were published in Bird Table 66, but more detail is also available online - see the results >>>.

BTO Roosting Survey - ENDED 2011

A big 'thank you' to the hundreds of participants in the BTO's recent Roosting Survey. The survey, which recorded birds roosting in gardens during winter, finished at the end of February 2011, and the results have been collated. It seems that our gardens might be important places for many species to see out the long winter nights. Many species, including Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Treecreeper and Starling were spotted, with Wrens roosting in the largest numbers. Roosting patterns varied between nest boxes, roosting pouches and other garden cavities. Find out the exciting results here >>>

Garden Bird Health Initiative (GBHi) - ENDED 2010

This partnership project was coordinated by the Institute of Zoology, and involved several veterinary and wildlife organisations including the BTO. It was aimed at investigating the causes of disease outbreaks in garden birds and establishing means to secure their prevention, using volunteer recorders drawn from the BTO Garden BirdWatch. A number of papers were published using its findings some of which can be found here

Reptiles & Amphibians in Gardens - ENDED 2009

This joint project was a collaboration between the BTO, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation and Froglife. Launched in spring 2009, the survey set out to collect information on which reptiles and amphibians were using gardens and what factors determined the types of gardens that were favoured. The survey also looked at how GBW data could be used to monitor the changing fortunes of reptile and amphibian populations living within the built environment. The results of the survey were published in BTO Research Report 572. Read the main findings of the report.

BTO Shortest Day Survey - ENDED 2004

This survey, carried out in 2004 and in association with BBC Radio 4, set out to find out if there was a pattern to the time at which different bird species arrived at garden feeders on a winter's morning. In particular, we wanted to see if this pattern was linked to particular things, such as eye size or the nature of the surrounding habitat. With nearly 6,000 participants we found we had a fantastic set of observations on which to carry out our analyses. The two scientific papers published as a result of this survey are a testament to our 'citizen scientists'. Find out more >>>

BTO House Sparrow Survey - ENDED 2004

The BTO launched a detailed study into urban and suburban populations of House Sparrows in 2002, something made possible because of the generosity of those people contributing to the BTO House Sparrow Appeal. During 2003 and 2004, we carried out an extensive field survey, building upon previous work and examining the relationship between House Sparrow numbers of local habitat factors. We have also examined changes in House Sparrow numbers within gardens (during winter) in relation to the recovery of the Sparrowhawk population. Our other work on House Sparrows is still ongoing. Find out more>>>

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