BTO Surveys

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) organises ongoing surveys of breeding birds.


The Breeding Birds Survey (BBS) has been running for 20 years and involves volunteers covering randomly chosen 1-km squares in a standardised way, twice each breeding season.  This means that over the years, a reliable data set is gathered about the distribution and number of breeding birds.

There are 46 of these squares in Moray & Nairn of which just over half are being covered at the moment.

The Waterways Breeding Birds Survey (WBBS) is more recent and involves randomly chosen bits of rivers being surveyed twice each breeding season.  There are eight such sections of river in Moray & Nairn of which six are being covered.

The BTO, in association with other organisations including the RSPB and SOC also organises the annual Garden Birdwatch.

A national survey of House Martins is being undertaken in 2015 and 2016 because of an apparent marked recent decline in House Martin numbers in the UK (although not in Scotland). This year, Moray & Nairn has been asked to survey 14 1-km squares, which involves checking for House Martins in early June and again a few weeks later. Eleven of the 14 squares have been allocated, leaving three still looking for volunteers. 2016 will probably see more detailed surveys of some colonies.

More details of these national surveys can be obtained from the BTO’s regional representative, Melvin Morrison or from the BTO’s website at