About BBS

The BBS was launched in 1994, and involves thousands of volunteer birdwatchers carrying out standardised annual bird counts on randomly-located 1-km sites. 

Sparrowhawk by Jill Pakenham

Comparing these annual counts enables us to monitor the population changes of over 100 bird species. Read about the methodology and survey design.

The survey is designed to be a simple and enjoyable birdwatching exercise. Read more about how to take part.

The BBS replaced the previous BTO population monitoring survey, the Common Birds Census (CBC). Trends from the two schemes can be combined to give long-term bird population trends that run from the 1960s to the present. The latest joint CBC/BBS trends are published in the BirdTrends Report.

The resulting UK bird population trends, and country and region trends, are published in the annual BBS report.

For more information about how the trends are generated, and research carried out using BBS data, see our research & conservation section.

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

The BBS Team

Sarah Harris is the BBS National Organiser at the BTO, responsible for the day-to-day running of the BBS, liaising with BTO Regional Organisers and volunteers, promoting the scheme, maintaining the database, and producing the annual report. 

David Noble is the Principal Ecologist for Monitoring Research at the BTO, responsible for strategic developments in biodiversity monitoring. Simon Gillings is the Head of Population Ecology and Modelling, and Principal Ecologist at BTO, overseeing the BBS research programme within that role. Dario Massimino, Research Ecologist in the Population Ecology and Modelling Team produces the population trends for the BBS annual reports and Dawn Balmer is the Head of the Surveys Team, which includes the BBS along with a number of other surveys. Finally, James Pearce-Higgins is the Director of Science at the BTO and Stephen Baillie is a Senior Research Fellow at the BTO, and has overseen the BBS since its inception in 1994.