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The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a Britishmarker charitable organisation which works to promote conservation and protection of birds and the wider environment through public awareness campaigns, petitions and through the operation of nature reserves throughout the United Kingdom. The RSPB has 1,500 employees, 12,200 volunteers and over 1 million members (including 150,000 youth members), making it the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe. The RSPB has a number of local groups, and maintains 182 reserves across the United Kingdom.

The charity was founded in Didsburymarker in 1889, as a protest group, campaigning against the use of great crested grebe and kittiwake skins and feathers in fur clothing. The society received a Royal Charter in 1904 from Edward VII, and was instrumental in petitioning the Parliament of the United Kingdommarker to introduce acts banning the use of plumage in clothing. Today, the RSPB works with both the civil service and the Government to advise Government policies on conservation and environmentalism.


Conservation lists

The RSPB is one of several organisations that determine the official conservation status list for all birds found in the UK. This consists of three lists - red, green and amber - with red list detailing birds of the highest conservation concern.

For a bird to be on the red list it must fulfill any one of the following four criteria:
  • A globally threatened species
  • A decline in the UK population (1800 to 1995)
  • At least a 50% decline in the UK breeding population over last 25 years
  • At least a 50% reduction in the UK breeding range over last 25 years


The RSPB maintains 203 reserves throughout the United Kingdom, covering a wide range of habitats, from estuaries and mudflats to urban habitat. The reserves usually have bird hides provided for birdwatchers, and many reserves provide visitor centres which include information about the wildlife which can be seen around the reserve.


The RSPB has published a members-only magazine for over a century.

Bird Notes

Bird Notes and News ( ) was first published in April 1903.

The title changed to 'Bird Notes' in 1947. ​From March 1953, many of the covers were by Charles Tunnicliffe. Two of the originals are on long-term loan to the Tunnicliffe gallery at Oriel Ynys Mônmarker, but in 1995 the RSPB sold 114 at a Sotheby's auction, raising £210,000; the most expensive being a picture of a partridge which sold for £6,440.

From January 1964 (vol. 31, no. 1), publication increased from the previous four copies per year (one for each season, published on the 1st of each third month, March, June, September and December), to six, (issued in the odd-numbered months, January, March and so on, but dated "January-February", "March-April", etc.). Volumes covered two years, so vol. 30, covering 1962–63, therefore included nine issues, ending with the "Winter 1963–64" edition, instead of eight. The final edition, vol. 31 no. 12, was published in late 1965..


  • Miss M. G. Davies, BA, MBOU (for many years, until vol. 30 no. 9)
  • John Clegg (from vol. 31 No. 1 – vol. 31 no. 3)
  • Jeremy Boswell (from vol. 31 no. 4 - vol. 31 no. 12)


Bird Notes' successor Birds ( ) replaced it immediately, with volume 1, number 1 being the January-February 1966 edition. Issues were published quarterly, numbered so that a new volume started every other year.

Birds is still published quarterly, the August–October 2009 edition being vol. 22 no. 7.

  • Jeremy Boswell (vol. 1 no.1 - vol. 1 no. 6)
  • Michael Everett (vol. 1 no. 6 (with Boswell) & vol. 1 no. 7 (with Nicholas Hammond))
  • Nicholas Hammond (vol. 1 no. 7 - vol. 5 no. 6)
  • Gerald Searle (vol. 5 no. 7 - vol. 6 no. 5)
  • Nicholas Hammond (vol. 6 no. 6 - vol. 6 no. 9)
  • No editor credited (vol. 7 no. 1 - vol. 8 no. 5)
  • Sylvia Sullivan (vol. 8 no. 6 - vol. 10 no. 2)
  • Nicholas Hammond (vol. 10 no. 3 - vol. 11 no. 1)
  • Annette Preece ("Managing Editor", vol. 11 no. 2 - vol. 12 no. 4)
  • Rob Hume (vol. 12 no. 5 - vol. 22 no. 6)
  • Sarah Brennan (vol. 22 no. 7 - )

Junior divisions

The RSPB has two separate groups for children and teenagers: Wildlife Explorers (formerly the Young Ornithologists Club) and RSPB Phoenix. Wildlife Explorers is targeted at children aged between 8 and 12, although it also has some younger members, and has two different magazines: Wild Times for the under 8s and Bird Life for those over 8. RSPB Phoenix is aimed at teenagers, and produces Wingbeat magazine, although members also receive Bird Life magazine. The RSPB is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services.


The RSPB is funded primarily by its members; in 2006, over 50% of the society's £ 88 million income came from subscriptions, donations and legacies, worth a total of £ 53.669 million. As a registered charity, the organisation is entitled to Gift aid worth an extra £ 0.28 on every £ 1.00 donated by income tax payers. The bulk of the income (£ 63.757 million in 2006) is spent on conservation projects, maintenance of the reserves and on education projects, with the rest going on fundraising efforts and reducing the pension deficit, worth £ 19.8 million in 2006.


Chief officers

Over time, the RSPB's chief officer have had a number of different titles.

See also


External links

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