The Breeding Bird Survey - 2017

26 April 2018

A northern powerhouse for UK songbirds

The latest survey results show that Spotted Flycatchers and Willow Warblers are thriving north of the England-Scotland border, whilst struggling south of it.

The latest Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) report, published today, shows a 66% increase forSpotted Flycatcher©Edmund Fellowes,BTO Spotted Flycatcher during 2011–2016 and a 21% upturn for Willow Warbler in Scotland over the last 23 years. In England, both of these birds are in trouble.

Since the start of the BBS in 1994, the UK has lost over a third of its breeding Spotted Flycatchers, and the decline in England has been a whopping 65%.  The species is Red-listed and of the highest conservation concern, based on its longer-term decline.  The Willow Warbler has fared better, with 9% of the UK breeding population being lost since 1994 - but the decline in England has been a worrying 40%.

The upturn in both of these long-distance migrants in Scotland, and the stark contrast with their fortunes in England has been tracked thanks to record levels of coverage undertaken by Breeding Bird Survey Volunteervolunteer recorders. A fantastic 2,814 people took time to survey birds during the breeding season in their allocated survey squares across the UK, allowing scientists at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to build a very accurate picture of just how our bird populations are doing.

The BBS Report gives long-term trends for 117 common and widespread bird species, providing vital evidence to underpin the conservation of the UK’s birds.

The BBS is a partnership between the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and reports annually on how Britain’s widespread breeding birds are faring.




The Breeding Bird Survey 2017

Full version of UK press release

British Trust for Ornithology website

List of other Official Statistics