Breeding Bird Survey 2012

31 July 2013

Lesser Redpolls © Tommy Holden

Good news for two small finches Siskins and Lesser Redpolls in the recently published Breeding Birds Survey 2012, run jointly by BTO, JNCC and RSPB, but a significant decrease in Greenfinch numbers.

Siskins and Lesser Redpolls now appear to be benefiting both from new forestry habitats, and, more recently, from garden bird feeding, and the BBS shows that numbers have increased by 55% since the start of the survey in the mid-1990s, and by 25% between 2011 and 2012.

While many people are seeing Siskins and Lesser Redpolls in their gardens for the first time, others are noticing the decline in Greenfinches. Numbers of this common garden bird have been badly affected by the disease trichomonosis, particularly in London, the South-East and the South-West, where numbers have declined by 58%, 30% and 30% respectively since the start of the BBS in 1994.  The wider picture in the report also shows declines in long distance migrants, probably due to weather fluctuations.

Deborah Procter, Senior Monitoring Ecologist at JNCC, said “This year we have begun the process of compiling a major assessment of the status of UK’s birds as part of a European review of bird conservation status to be published in 2015.  Trend data from the BBS gives invaluable insights into how particular UK bird species are responding to pressures both within the UK and elsewhere.  The European context that will come from this assessment in due course will be especially important in the setting of future UK priorities.

The success of the BBS in delivering high quality data is a tribute to the hard work of the many BBS volunteers and the BTO team working with them.”


Further details contact:

Wendy Dalton

(JNCC Communications Adviser)

Office: 01733 866884




General Information

  • Download The Breeding Bird Survey 2012
  • The Breeding Bird Survey is run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and is jointly funded by BTO, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) (on behalf of the statutory nature conservation bodies: Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland), and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Further information about individual species
  • The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a national project aimed at keeping track of changes in the breeding populations of widespread bird species in the UK. The BBS involves around 2,500 participants who survey more than 3,200 sites across the UK, enabling us to monitor the population changes of over 100 bird species. Knowing to what extent bird populations are increasing or decreasing is fundamental to bird conservation.
  • The information provided by the BBS provides a cornerstone for conservation action for birds in the UK.
  • This important survey is carried out by volunteer birdwatchers throughout the UK, who receive no financial reward or expenses for their efforts. We are indebted to them for their tremendous support.
  • The BTO is the UK's leading bird research organisation. Over thirty thousand birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Norfolk, Stirling and Bangor, who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO's investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.
  • The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews - Please contact BTO to book an interview - Office:  01842 750050