A Field Guide to Monitoring Nests


The introductory sections to this excellent guide cover current legislation, the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme and advice about finding and monitoring nests without affecting the outcome of the breeding attempt. Importantly, it also explains why there is a need to monitor nests. Along with survival rates, breeding success determines whether a species increases or decreases in population. Monitoring helps explain some declines and contributes towards the creation of conservation initiatives.

The bulk of the book is made up of species accounts in the traditional field-guide format, with one or two pages per species. A total of 146 breeding birds is included, with Schedule 1 species  – rarer birds whose nesting sites cannot be approached without a licence – omitted. For each, there is a map, a summary of the dates when eggs and young can be found, colour pictures of the adult, eggs and newly hatched young, and details of breeding ecology and tips on the best methods for finding and monitoring nests.

The BTO hopes that this guide will encourage more birders to become involved in nest recording for conservation purposes. The numbers of nests being monitored has been dropping rapidly for some species, particularly open-nesting passerines, which could hinder efforts to understand why their populations are in decline. However, the comprehensive information contained in this guide will be of interest even if you do not want to take part in nest recording. It may even help to change your mind!

A Field Guide to Monitoring Nests by James Ferguson-Lees, Richard Castell and Dave Leech (BTO Sales, Thetford, 2011).
• 272 pages, 146 maps, 650 colour photographs, 50 figures.
• ISBN 9781906204792. Pbk, £24.99.

Available from Birdwatch bookshop

First published in Birdwatch 231:62 (September 2011)