The Invaluable British Trust for Ornitholgy

The British Trust for Ornithology

How do I know which species of bird is in decline, stable or increasing? How do I and almost every other writer on the subject in the U.K. acquire the facts? My main source is the British Trust for Ornithology {BTO}, an organisation that has been in existence since the 1930s. It is nan independent scientific research trust, investigating the populations, movements and ecology of wild birds in the British Isles. They specialise in the design and implementation of volunteer bird surveys.

The volunteers are , in my opinion, the unsung heroes behind bird conservation. They are made up of all ages and from all walks of life, who put their knowledge and observation skills to good use. They regularly and efficiently report their sightings using the survey methods devised by the B.T.O. scientists who then collate and analyse them before they are published. naturally the findings make a direct and important contribution to bird conservation in the U.K. It enables the relative decision makers to set priorities and to target resources.

A by-product of this is that an insight is revealed on how the environment is or has changed. The surveys and the way they are carried out by the many volunteers vary both in form and the level of skill required to carry them out. Beginners can contribute by recording common bird species in their own garden or yard. A great deal more skill is required to record the birds that are heard without actually being seen. Skilled recorders obtain vital information from nest boxes or even a single nest box. The B.T.O. has volunteers who annually make expeditions to remote sea bird colonies, one can only salute their dedication.. Brave volunteers climb to the top of tall trees in order to record information on the nests of large raptures.

Volunteers can also be trained by B.T.O. professionals on how to safely capture wild birds, for the purpose of fitting uniquely numbered rings,which are vital way of obtaining information about bird migration and survival rates. The level and commitment and skill is down to the individual volunteer. The B.T.O. will develop a survey for the volunteer tailor made to suit his/her requirements. Any one interested in contributing to the B.T.O. survey or being a part of bird conservation need only apply to the B.T.O. to get started.

It is an amazing fact that the B.T.O. volunteers ring over 800,000 birds every year. Even more amazing is the fact that since 1909, 36 million birds have been ringed in the UK. Over 30,000 bird watchers contribute to the B.T.O. surveys.

One of the most important surveys undertaken is the Breeding Bird survey a national survey aimed at keeping track of changes in breeding populations of widespread bird species in the U.K. This survey involves over 3,000 volunteers who now survey more than 3,200 sites across the U.K. which enable the B.T.O. to monitor the population species of over 100 bird species. It is of vital importance to bird conservation. These surveys are jointly funded by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the B.T.O. and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. B.T.O. investigations are funded by Government, industry and conservation organisations.

The B.T.O. garden bird watch is the only national survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year. 150,000 people participate.

Guide lines are regularly issued to members and the general public, such as the press release November/December this year 2009. " WORK WONDERS WITH WAGTAILS". It reveals how to sex, age and identify our three species of wagtails. The guide is full of information and photographs of the species which are available free from the B.T.O.

The pied, yellow and grey wagtails breed in Britain. The pied wagtail is often found in towns and cities, the grey wagtail anywhere near water and the yellow wagtail on suitable farmland. The yellow wagtail is currently a Priority Species of conservation concern. { a fact revealed by surveys carried out by volunteers and analysed by the B.T.O. }.

Once again I feel we owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who give their time, skill and dedication to the conservation of birds. Other conservation organisations such as those for mammals, amphibians and butterflies also rely on an army of dedicated volunteers.

The Three Wagtail Species.

The grey wagtail is found by water. They are often mistaken for the similar yellow wagtail. photograph by Andreas Trepte
The grey wagtail is found by water. They are often mistaken for the similar yellow wagtail. photograph by Andreas Trepte
The pied wagtail is found in urban areas. This photograph by Kclama is of a white wagtail a variant of the true pied wagtail.
The pied wagtail is found in urban areas. This photograph by Kclama is of a white wagtail a variant of the true pied wagtail.
The yellow wagtail is now a priority Species of Conservation Concern. Photograph by Andreas Trepte.
The yellow wagtail is now a priority Species of Conservation Concern. Photograph by Andreas Trepte.

More by this Author


Comments 12 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Than you for reading and for your comment. nice to meet you Nicks.


Nicks 6 years ago

Thank Heavens for the BTO - another great British institution.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi, Justin, nice to meet you . Thank you for reading and for your comments.


Justin McCrory 6 years ago

wow that was really long but googd. those birds were real cool looking


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi coverley1 Thank you for reading too. The birds and many other species are under threat, and it is the work of people that really care that will make the difference to them.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

HI, NELL, Thanks for reading. Life is frantic these days. Hope you do get involved in the future I am sure you would give 100% in what ever you do.


coverley1 profile image

coverley1 6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

A detailed and informative Hub....it is a good thing to have people care so much for our birds, wildlife and fauna.

Keep the Hubs coming D.A.L.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hiya, yeah it is a shame when all the lovely birds are beginning to disapear. I have often wanted to volunteer for something like that, but life gets in the way and I have'nt been able to get around to it yet. Hopefully I will sometime. cheers Nell


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

Beautiful hub, I was shocked when I read the common house sparrow was in decline, which inspired me to write my hub about garden birds. I got this information from the B T O also.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Poet. thank you again!! there are several web sites on which information will be available. Enter the birds name in Google.

Good luck. Waiting for the poetry to flow.


poetlorraine 6 years ago

at the risk of being a nuisance in order for me to be able to write poetry about the above pictures, do you know where i could get lots of information about these birds, other than just on your hubs.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working