Taking part

Volunteers by David Tipling


The Breeding Bird Survey is a national volunteer project aimed at keeping track of changes in the breeding populations of widespread bird species in the UK.

How do I get involved?

To get started, contact your Regional Organiser (RO). Your RO will talk to you about the survey, allocate you a 1-km BBS square and send you recording forms.

What skills are required?

You don’t need to be an expert to take part, but you should be able to identify common birds by sight and sound. If required, a CD of bird songs and calls is available FREE to BBS volunteers - ask your RO. The BTO also runs a number of training courses.

How do I take part?

The survey involves two early-morning spring visits to a local 1-km square, to count all the birds you see or hear while walking two 1-km lines across the square. Read the full instructions here

Survey sites are pre-selected from a list of random 1-km squares, so it is likely that you will need to drive to your square.   

You will need to record the habitat of your square, and you can optionally record mammals and visit your square later in the season to survey for butterflies. All volunteers receive a set of recording forms. You can send back your completed forms to your RO, or submit your data on BBS-Online.

How are my results used?

BBS bird population trends are published in the annual BBS report, sent to all volunteers. BBS data and trends are widely used in bird research and conservation.

Other questions?

See our Frequently Asked Questions