The Breeding Bird Survey 2023

Author(s): Heywood, J.J.N., Massimino, D., Balmer, D.E., Kelly, L., Marion, S., Noble, D.G., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., White, D.M., Woodcock, P., Wotton, S. and Gillings, S.

Published: May 2024  

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This is the 29th annual report of the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS), documenting the population trends of widespread UK breeding bird species during the periods 1994–2023 and 1998–2023 respectively.

These are the main schemes for monitoring the population changes of the UK’s widespread breeding birds, providing an important indicator of the health of the countryside.

The results are published annually as Official Statistics and used widely by Defra and the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs, e.g. Natural England and NatureScot) to set priorities and to inform conservation action, and as the evidence base against which the UK’s biodiversity targets are measured.

BBS data are also routinely used in research, with recent examples including peer-reviewed papers published in 2022 and 2024 which measured the efficacy of the UK’s network of protected areas in supporting wildlife.

The 2023 Breeding Bird Survey Report celebrates the 30-year anniversary of fieldwork for the scheme, in particular the amazing commitment and dedication of its volunteers.

It is a mixed picture for birds: Swift and Swallow show widespread decline, whereas some species are faring better, particularly in Scotland where species of scrub and woodland are doing better than in England.

Download the 2023 report

Press releases


The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a partnership jointly funded by the BTO, RSPB and JNCC, with fieldwork conducted by volunteers. The BBS now incorporates the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS).

The members of the BBS Steering Committee in 2023 were James Pearce-Higgins (Chair), Dawn Balmer, Simon Gillings, Dario Massimino, David Noble (all BTO), Simon Wotton, Leah Kelly (both RSPB), Paul Woodcock and Solène Marion (both JNCC).

We would like to thank all surveyors and Regional Organisers for making the Breeding Bird Survey the success it is today. 

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