Latest Research

Whinchat, by Edmund Fellowes

Crossing barriers: does flexibility provide resilience in a changing world?

Migratory barriers, such as the Sahara Desert, are thought to present a challenge to small migrant birds like Whinchat, but how much do we really know about the strategies these birds use when crossing barriers and can these strategies provide resilience to future changes in barrier width that might arise from changes in climate and land-use?
Blue Tit nest with eggs by Moss Taylor

Caterpillars and caterpillar-eating birds: out of synch in space and time?

The increasing temperatures associated with a changing climate may disrupt ecological systems, including by affecting the timing of key events. If events within different trophic levels are affected in different ways then this can lead to what is known as trophic mismatch. But what is the evidence for trophic mismatch, and are there spatial or temporal patterns within the UK that might point to mismatch as a driver of regional declines in key insect-eating birds?
Cuckoo and Reed Warbler, by Moss Taylor

What makes a good host for a parasitic Cuckoo?

The Cuckoo is a generalist avian brood parasite, known to have utilized at least 125 different bird species as a host within Europe. Despite this, individual female Cuckoos are thought to be host-specific, preferentially laying their eggs in one – or a few – host nests. This raises the question of what makes a good host.
Bird ringing by David Tipling

Estimating mortality of birds caught for ringing with mist nets

The benefit of the information accrued when capturing wild animals for study needs to outweigh the potential risk to individuals that are caught. New BTO research, just published, assesses the potential effects of capturing wild birds.
Starlings by Allan Drewitt

Shaping positive engagements with urban birds

There is growing evidence that interactions with birds in our towns and cities can provide people with feelings of being connected with nature; such interactions can also have positive effects of human well-being. Within the field of ecosystem services such forms of benefit are known as ‘cultural services’. However, not all interactions between people and birds are necessarily positive. Birds are sometimes responsible for disease transmission, for the contamination of water sources, for aggression, damage to property and for causing unwelcome noise and smells. These interactions are known as ‘disservices’.