COVID-19

This appeal had been planned for many weeks, and there was little opportunity to consider postponing it before it had already been launched and the letters posted. The timing is not ideal.

We completely understand donating to charity may not be a priority for you right now. We know that many organisations, charities, and people are facing uncertainty. Including BTO.

We are always grateful for your support whether or not you are able to give.

In response to the ongoing pandemic we have changed the ways in which we work. This means that processing and responding to donations and correspondence sent to us by post is taking longer than usual. If you have an urgent enquiry, please email fundraising@bto.org. Thank you for your patience and your kind support, which is of particular importance during these challenging times.

Chaffinch Appeal

You may be shocked to hear that our Chaffinch population is collapsing. In just eleven years from 2007 – 2018, the UK Chaffinch population fell by a staggering 30% according to BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey Data. We urgently need to find out why our Chaffinches are disappearing, before we lose them as a common bird. You can help by making a donation today.

Chaffinch and Greenfinch. Edmund Fellowes
Why have Chaffinch numbers only started to decrease dramatically in 2012, and not when the trichomonosis outbreak first occurred amongst Greenfinches? Edmund Fellowes

Detail in the data

Volunteer-gathered data have highlighted the developing Chaffinch population crisis. Long-term trends show not only that Chaffinch numbers are in steep decline, but also that there is disparity in the timings and rates of decrease between the individual countries in the UK. Does this mean Chaffinches are facing different pressures in different places?

Further analysis of Garden BirdWatch data could provide important insight, by revealing the population trends for smaller areas, and allowing comparisons between neighbouring cities and countryside. Exploring the different conditions between the regions could help to determine the key factors influencing not just Chaffinch populations, but also those of other UK birds.

Breeding Bird Survey trends for Chaffinch population in UK
Between 2007 and 2018, the UK population of Chaffinches fell by 30% (BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey)
Kate Risely
I remember my grandfather showing me them in his garden when I was small, and recently I enjoyed helping my own five-year-old identify and record the Chaffinches we saw for his homework. It worries me to think that he might not see them as a common bird when he's my age. Kate Risely, Garden BirdWatch Organiser 

Your Observations Matter

One potential cause of the drop in Chaffinch numbers is a disease called Trichomonosis. In partnership with ZSL, RSPB, and Froglife, we deliver the Garden Wildlife Health project, which aims to monitor the health of, and identify disease threats to, British wildlife. We have improved how we capture observations of sickness in birds in our Garden BirdWatch survey, and now are able to share these data directly with Garden Wildlife Health. We thank you, our volunteers, supporters, and the general public, for providing us with the sightings which we rely on to conduct our research. Together, we are able to build a picture of the status of bird life in the UK, and the most pressing threats, informing critical conservation action.

Chaffinch. Edmund Fellowes

How you can make a difference

The loss of Chaffinches from the UK requires urgent action now. We have developed a programme of research that will help to pinpoint the drivers of this decline. This will include new analysis of existing survey data, as well as additional fieldwork across the country, and disseminating the results. It costs £6,000 to analyse the data of one survey, and £30,000 to monitor Chaffinch movements between a city the size of Birmingham and the surrounding countryside. Our aim is to raise £100,000 to deliver the complete programme of research. We hope that supporters like you will share our concerns and understand the urgency of our appeal. You can make a difference by donating today.

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If we are fortunate enough to raise surplus funds from this appeal, they will be used to further our general charitable purposes.