Biodiversity is in crisis and we need to know what is happening to species and find out why. Only by doing this can we devise solutions and then test the effectiveness of these through ongoing monitoring. Most of the biodiversity monitoring in the UK is carried out by volunteers, working in partnership with a far smaller number of scientists. Anyone can be a ‘citizen scientist’ and help to collect this much-needed evidence.

So how can you get involved and help? Well there are multiple ways you can participate through citizen science. Read on to find out how you can record the birds in your garden, follow the nesting attempts made by breeding birds, or take part in surveys across the wider countryside. You too can make a difference for the UK’s birds.

Find out how you can use your interest in birds and the natural world to help deliver the evidence that supports conservation action and policy decisions.

BTO Garden BirdWatch

Stay connected to nature, learn about your garden wildlife and contribute to important scientific research without leaving your home. Garden BirdWatch is designed to find out how, when and why birds and other animals use our gardens. Participants send in weekly lists of garden birds and other wildlife, which are analysed by scientists working under the BTO’s urban and garden ecology research programmes, to investigate the links between changes in wildlife populations and factors such as garden management, food, weather and urban structure.

Participation is free, with records submitted through a simple online system, and over time you will not only contribute to our understanding but also build up your own online diary of garden wildlife observations.

Photo credit: Paul Stancliffe

Find out more

Nesting Neighbours

Do you think you might have birds nesting in your garden? Could you take a closer look and find out? By monitoring nests through the breeding season you could gather hugely valuable information. It starts with watching the behaviour of birds in your garden and local area; have you seen a Robin carrying moss, a Blackbird with worms or Blue Tits investigating a nest box? Next you need to locate the nest. Whether it’s a Blue Tits in a box, Blackbird in a shrub or House Martins under the eaves, all you need to do is check the nest at regular intervals and then record what you see online. By following the code of conduct it is possible to enjoy a privileged and intimate insight into the lives of birds without impacting the nesting attempt.

The information collected through Nesting Neighbours helps BTO scientists to build up a detailed picture of bird breeding success and what may be affecting it, so participation in Nesting Neighbours is both enjoyable and very rewarding.

Photo credit: David Tipling

Find out more

The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey

The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is the main scheme for monitoring the population changes of the UK’s common and widespread breeding birds, producing population trends for 117 bird and nine mammal species.

The survey involves a recce visit and two early-morning spring visits to an allocated 1-km square, to count all the birds you see or hear while walking two 1-km lines across the square. You can optionally record mammals and visit your square later in the season to survey for butterflies. There is the option to return data on paper, via field recording forms or to submit your data on BBS-Online. You’ll need to be able to identify UK breeding birds by sight, song and call.

Photo credit: David Tipling

Find out more

British Trust for Ornithology

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is a Registered Charity that focuses on understanding birds and, in particular, how and why their populations are changing. Our vision is of a world where people are inspired by birds and informed by science.

Related Pages

The importance of the natural world

TV star and presenter Chris Packham explains his reasons for being optimistic about the future of nature, and his insights into why the natural world is so important for us all. Screening from Monday 29 March.

Helping Britain’s wild mammals

What can you do to help Britain's wild mammals at home and out and about? How does plastic threaten mammals? Find out more and how you can easily identify your garden's visitors!

What’s the evidence?

These days it is easy to be taken in by flashy headlines and social media posts claiming to have the answers to the questions about how to conserve and protect biodiversity. But how can you separate fact from fiction?