Species Recording

Avocet by Derek Moore

By their very nature, rare breeding birds occur in low numbers and at a small number of sites across the country, and in some cases a more cautious approach to the recording of breeding evidence than is standard is required. As a start point, the EBCC standard definitions of "Possible breeding", "Probable breeding" and "Confirmed breeding" are used, and if there is any doubt these definitions should first be applied. County bird recorders and other observers are always invited to discuss specific instances with the Panel Secretary.

To expand on these definitions, and to make them more species specific, the Rare Breeding Birds Panel has compiled a series of recording guidelines in the form of "interpretation tables". The purpose of these tables is to help observers, county bird recorders and others who submit data to RBBP to assess their records against a series of standard criteria. The format of the tables is based on the EBCC categories for recording breeding evidence as "Possible breeding", "Probable breeding" or "Confirmed breeding", tailored for each individual species. The details take into account the rarity of the species and so may differ from the more generalised guidelines typically used in Bird Atlas recording. The information presented here is not intended to replace any existing published recording guidelines, merely to complement them. We hope that these tables will help standardise the recording of these species across the UK.

The following species specific guidelines have been prepared (see below), and it is our intention to add new species on a regular basis. Although we have endeavoured to check these tables with other individuals who have experience of recording these species, we always welcome feedback and constructive comments. Please contact the Secretary in the first instance.

For most of the species breeding in the UK, standard recording methodologies were documented in a book Bird Monitoring Methods by Gillian Gilbert, David W Gibbons and Julianne Evans, published by RSPB in 1998. The authors have kindly allowed RBBP to reproduce the pages from this manual on our website and these can be found here: Bird Monitoring Methods - standard methodologies.


Species-specific guidelines compiled by RBBP to aid the recording breeding evidence for rare breeding birds.