The Nest Record Scheme

Top: A Blackbird nest in a pub beer garden. Bottom left: checking a
Tit box. Bottom right: attending a nest recording course

The Nest Record Scheme (NRS) gathers vital information on the breeding success of Britain's birds by asking volunteers to find and follow the progress of individual birds' nests.

Anyone can be a nest recorder. Some people watch a single nest box in their back garden while others find and monitor nests of a whole range of species. Registering to take part is easy and there are lots of resources to help you get started—click the link below to find out more.

Find out how to take part in NRS

To monitor some specially protected species, it's necessary to obtain a Schedule 1 permit in addition to registering as a nest recorder.

As with all BTO surveys, the welfare of the birds comes first, and therefore all nest recorders follow the NRS Code of Conduct, a protocol designed to ensure that monitoring a nest does not influence its outcome.

The data collected for NRS are used to produce trends in breeding performance, which help us to identify species that may be declining because of problems at the nesting stage. These trends are are updated every year and published in the BirdTrends report. NRS data also allow us to measure the impacts of pressures such as climate change on bird productivity.

Details of the number of nest records submitted by year and area are available on the Online Ringing & Nest Recording Report along with information about the timing of breeding and moult. Please see the results page for more information.

Latest news

Blackbird with young bird by Moss Taylor/BTO

2016 NRS & CES preliminary breeding season results

Information collected by British Trust for Ornithology volunteers show that 2016 was a poor breeding season for many bird species, in part due to periods of heavy spring and summer rainfall. In a reversal of fortunes from last year, conditions were better for populations in northern England and Scotland than they were in the south. See the Nest Record Scheme and Constant Effort Sites scheme preliminary breeding season report for details.

Barn Owls in 2016: Colin Shawyer's report

Failures early in 2016 were followed by more successful nesting attempts from June onwards, according to the Barn Owl Conservation Network's Colin Shawyer.
Life Cycle Issue 4

Life Cycle Issue 4

The autumn edition of Life Cycle, the BTO magazine for nest recorders and ringers is now available online. Issue 4 contains the second in our two-part series on mist-netting waders as well as a guide to monitoring Tawny Owls and articles on tracking Nightingales, how your NRS data is informing conservation policy, a look at the impact of climate change on ducks (and what volunteers can do to help) and much more.

Acknowledgements

The BTO would like to thank the network of volunteers who take part in the Nest Record Scheme. Without their hard work and enthusiasm the Trust would not be able to monitor the health of the UK’s breeding birds each year.