The Big Farmland Bird Count is an annual event that encourages farmers and land managers to record the bird species and numbers on their farms. It is organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and sponsored by the National Farmers Union (NFU). The count aims to raise awareness of the important role that farmers play in the conservation of farmland birds, and to provide a snapshot of the bird population on UK farms during a specific period. The count also helps to measure the impact of the conservation work that many farmers and shoots carry out, such as providing extra food and habitat for birds.
Why should I take part?
As 72% of the UK is farmed, biodiversity recovery must take place alongside sustainable production. By spending just 30 minutes, you can be part of a large monitoring programme that is an important tool in understanding what is happening in our countryside.
The count has been running since 2014 and has provided a fascinating snapshot of the farmed landscape. Since the first count, more than 11,000 counts have been carried out by people working on our farms. In 2023, the BFBC celebrated its 10th anniversary with over 1,700 farmers taking part and recording 149 species across more than 1.5 million acres. The results showed that many of the farmers who participated are involved in landscape-scale conservation projects such as farmer clusters and that even more are in some form of agri-environment agreement. The results also revealed that 33 species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern and 47 from the Amber list were recorded, indicating the importance of farmland habitats for many threatened bird species.
The BFBC also provides valuable data and feedback to the GWCT and the NFU, as well as other organisations and policymakers, on the state and trends of farmland birds and the effectiveness of conservation measures. The BFBC is a great example of how citizen science can engage and empower farmers and land managers to make a real difference for wildlife on their farms.
How do I take part?
You should choose a location with a good view of around 2 hectares of the farm and include or be close to an area with seed mix or supplementary feeding. Spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen in your chosen area. You should also record the habitat and cropping on and adjacent to your area. The best time to count is at first light when the birds are most active.
If you have further questions about the count, please read our FAQs.