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The birdwatchers' code

Visitor walking through woodland, RSPB West Sedgemoor reserve

Image: David Kjaer

Following the birdwatchers' code is good practice, common sense and should enable us all to enjoy seeing birds.

Some three million adults go birdwatching every year in the UK*. The code puts the interests of birds first and respects other people, whether or not they are interested in birds. 

It applies not just when you are at a nature reserve, but whenever you are watching birds in the UK or abroad. It has been produced by the leading bird organisations, magazines and websites.

It will be most effective if we lead by example and sensitively challenge the minority of birdwatchers who behave inappropriately.

Five things to remember:

  • Avoid disturbing birds and their habitats – the birds’ interests should always come first
  • Be an ambassador for birdwatching
  • Know the law and the rules for visiting the countryside, and follow them
  • Send your sightings to the County Bird Recorder and the Birdtrack website (see link from this page)
  • Think about the interests of wildlife and local people before passing on news of a rare bird, especially during the breeding season.      

* 2.85 million adults aged over 15 in Britain go birdwatching regularly or occasionally (Target Group Index, BMRB International 2004).