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Latest Breeding Bird Survey results published

News Item 2022

The latest annual report from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), extending to the year 2021, and incorporating the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, are now available, providing population trends of the UK’s breeding birds.

The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a UK-wide project aimed at monitoring changes in the breeding populations of the UK’s common bird species. In the most recent annual (2021) report, population trends for 118 bird species in the UK have been calculated.

The report outlines that, overall, 43 species are showing statistically significant long-term declines in the UK. This includes a number of breeding wader species – many of which the UK holds internationally important numbers of – which are continuing to show declines. Over the last 25 years (between 1995 and 2020), Redshank is down by 49%, Curlew and Lapwing by 48%, Common Sandpiper by 28% and Oystercatcher by 22%.

For many of these wader species, research suggests that land management measures such as sensitive woodland and forestry planning, water level control, the creation or restoration of wet areas and implementing beneficial grazing practices and delaying grassland mowing regimes can help boost breeding productivity locally.

On the flip side, 39 species showed statistically significant long-term increases in the UK, with Little Egret, a recent colonist of the UK from Europe, seeing its numbers increase by 2,380%. Red Kites are also doing well, up by 1,935% between 1995 and 2020 after being reintroduced to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Paul Woodcock, Biodiversity Evidence Specialist at JNCC, said: "Data sources such as the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) are really key for identifying changes in nature and understanding the effects of different management decisions. This really demonstrates the value of the large-scale long-term datasets which are created through these schemes to nature conservation efforts, and the huge importance of the volunteers involved in them. Thank you to everyone who contributes."

The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey is a partnership jointly funded by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) and JNCC, and is carried out by volunteer birdwatchers throughout the UK. It involves over 2,500 participants who survey almost 4,000 sites across the UK, enabling us to monitor the population changes of the UK's common and widespread bird species. Knowing the extent to which bird populations are increasing or decreasing is fundamental to bird conservation. The latest report can be found on the BTO website. We are indebted to all the volunteers for their tremendous support.

Find out more on the BTO website:

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