Meet your nesting neighbours


Ever wondered what birds are nesting in your garden? This year the BTO's Garden Ecology Team want you to get better acquainted with your 'nesting neighbours' so that you can help them with an important new survey. The BTO Garden Nesting Survey will find out which birds nest in gardens and, importantly, why. A free wallchart is included in the survey pack to give you the tools you need to discover your 'nesting neighbours'.

Song Thrush nest (Photo: Richard Castell)

The last time the BTO carried out a detailed study of the nesting birds in gardens, they revealed that other researchers had underestimated just how important gardens were for species like Blackbird and Song Thrush. This year the BTO will be carrying out another survey of garden nesting and it needs householders to contribute information on which species are nesting in gardens across the country.

Mike Toms, Head of Garden Ecology at the BTO, commented: "We not only want to find out which species are nesting in gardens, and in what numbers, but we also want to see how the timing of their nesting attempts varies regionally and in relation to other factors, like what habitats surround the garden."

He continued: "We need people to make a simple weekly check to discover which birds are nesting in their gardens. They can then log this information on our website (www.bto.org/gns) or use one of our paper recording forms. We have also produced a free wallchart to help people identify different nests and eggs."


For your free wallchart and survey pack, please call the BTO on 01842 750050, email nestingneighbours@bto.org or write to Garden Nesting Survey, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU. Alternatively, visit www.bto.org/gns for more information.

The BTO monitors the fortunes of nesting birds through a number of different surveys, collectively covering a wide range of different nesting habitats. BTO Nest Record data are analysed annually and the results are published in the 'Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside' report along with information on species' abundance obtained through other BTO monitoring schemes. Nest Record data are also used to investigate the causes of species-specific trends in breeding success.

Urbanised habitats support important breeding populations of some bird species, including Swift, Blackbird, Starling, House Sparrow and Greenfinch. This means that we need to understand how these breeding populations are doing. The Garden Nesting Survey will provide information on the abundance of nesting birds in gardens and when they breed. Two more advanced schemes, Nest Box Challenge and the Nest Record Scheme (both of which are run by the BTO) will encourage householders to look inside nests to chart their success over the course of the season.

More information on the BTO's range of nesting surveys can be found at: www.nestingneighbours.net.

BirdGuides' software Breeding Birds of Britain and Ireland provides detailed information on nesting birds, with a helpful foreward by the BTO.

Written by: BTO