English Winter Bird Survey

Tree Sparrow. © Darren Frost

Help build a picture of how our winter birds fare on lowland farmland in England.

The purpose of this survey is to investigate how wintering birds and Brown Hare benefit from using Agri-environment scheme (AES) options in winter, which remains a major gap in our knowledge.  This work will complement existing studies that have successfully evaluated the effects of AES options on farmland birds and will further our understanding of why the majority of breeding farmland birds are still in decline.

What is required?

This survey will use the entire network of Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) 1-km squares and their survey transects during winter.

Up to four visits are required between 1 December 2018 and 31 March 2019, to record all birds and Brown Hare along a fixed route, by distance band and transect section (as for BBS).

Some basic, but essential, habitat recording will be required for each transect section to assess how much farmland feeding habitat (e.g. stubbles, wild bird covers, etc) is available during each winter visit.

The main focus of this survey is lowland farmland in England, however, we do welcome volunteers to take up squares that contain all other habitats.

How to sign-up for the survey

EWBS is already available for exisiting BBS surveyors from BBS Online. You can indicate which of your BBS squares you would like to survey for EWBS, via BBS online

If you do not yet participate in BBS, and would like to request a square for EWBS, you can check availability and contact a Regional Organiser using the EWBS square request map.

From November, EWBS will be made available to surveyors who haven't previously participated in BBS as well.

Further information

More detailed survey information, including instructions and recording forms are available on the EWBS methods page and all survey documents can be downloaded from the resources page.

DATA ENTRY is now available via BBS online.

EWBS survey organisers: David Norfolk and Greg Conway - email: winterbirds [at] bto.org

Natural England logo
DEFRA logo

This survey is organised in partnership with Natural England and Defra.


The EWBS is largely based on the field methods of the Breeding Bird Survey, and their online data entry system. The Breeding Bird Survey is run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and is jointly funded by BTO, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) (on behalf of the statutory nature conservation agencies: Natural Resources Wales, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage), and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).   Thank you.