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British Trust for Ornithology

The Nunnery, Thetford, IP24 2PU

About Us

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is a UK charity that focuses on understanding birds and, in particular, how and why bird populations are changing. Our vision is of a world where people are inspired by birds and informed by science.

BTO has been at the forefront of bird monitoring and research since we were founded in 1933, and since that time we have accrued a vast body of knowledge. Sharing our understanding of birds is an important part of our work, helping to invigorate and inform our vital volunteer base and inspire the next generation of ornithologists to tackle the conservation challenges of the future.

Our scientific research and fieldwork includes surveys involving up to 30,000 volunteers, each of whose individual contribution is a vital part of our accumulated scientific knowledge. We work in partnership with others in the academic and conservation science communities, with government departments and agencies, and with the private and voluntary sectors. The BTO has a unique combination of professional scientists and volunteers, highly valued data and information, and modern surveys with web-based, on-line data entry and retrieval.

Volunteer for BTO

We welcome volunteers of all ages and abilities to get involved with the work of the BTO. Over 40,000 people currently help us by recording the birds in their gardens or the wider countryside. The results of these surveys are analysed by BTO scientists to provide reliable, unbiased reports that are used to inform policy makers and conservation organisations about the state of the UK’s birds.

What’s in it for you?
Undertaking bird surveying with BTO is a great way of learning more about the birds and other wildlife in your local area. Surveying often takes you to areas that you would not normally visit, creating excellent opportunities to expand your knowledge. It also provides opportunities to develop other skills such as map reading & habitat identification.

Each region has its own BTO Regional Representative responsible for organising and overseeing surveys within that region. Regional Reps help to organise regional conferences at which volunteers can meet and share experiences. These also provide an opportunity to interact with BTO staff who organise surveys nationally. Volunteers receive updates on the results of the surveys they have participated in and how these results are being used.

BTO runs regular training courses to help inexperienced volunteers develop their skills and confidence so that they may participate in more challenging surveys. The real benefit of course is that you are contributing to the conservation of our birds.

Which surveys can I participate in?
BTO organises a range of surveys every year which vary in their geographical range and complexity. Some surveys can be done by beginners from the comfort of their own homes whilst others require more skill and endurance! All of our surveys make an important contribution to our understanding of the UK’s birds.

Work experience

We provide several week long work experience placements each year for children under 18, if you are interested please send details about yourself, your interests, and the dates you would like a placement to recruitment@bto.org

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