World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Article Id: WHEBN0000099995
Reproduction Date:

Title: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Environmental impact of wind power, Fauna of Scotland, Harapan Rainforest, Didsbury, Renewable energy in Scotland
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Type charity
Founded 1889 (1889) - Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden, Manchester
Headquarters The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, England
2 Lochside View, Edinburgh, Scotland
Area served United Kingdom
Key people
Revenue Increase £88.28 million GBP (2006)[1]
Operating income Increase £69.7 million GBP (2006)[1]
Net income Decrease £3.68 million GBP (2006)[1]

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a England and Wales[2] and in Scotland.[3] It was founded as the Plumage League in 1889 by Emily Williamson. It 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.[4]

The RSPB has 2,000 employees, 17,600 volunteers and more than 1 million members (including 150,000 youth members), making it the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe.[5] The RSPB has many local groups and maintains 200 nature reserves.[6]


Plaque at Fletcher Moss Park, Manchester, commemorating the foundation of the RSPB

The Plumage League[7] was founded in 1889 by Emily Williamson at her house in Didsbury, Manchester, (now in Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden),[8] as a protest group campaigning against the use of great crested grebe and kittiwake skins and feathers in fur clothing. The group gained popularity and eventually amalgamated with the Fur and Feather League in Croydon to form the RSPB.[9]

The original members of the RSPB were all women who campaigned against the fashion of the time for women to wear exotic feathers in hats, and to this end the Society had two simple rules:[9]

  • That Members shall discourage the wanton destruction of Birds, and interest themselves generally in their protection
  • That Lady-Members shall refrain from wearing the feathers of any bird not killed for purposes of food, the ostrich only excepted.
    —RSPB rules, 1899

At the time of founding, the trade in plumage for use in hats was very large: in the first quarter of 1884, almost 7,000 bird-of-paradise skins were being imported to Britain, along with 0.4 million birds from West India and Brazil, and 0.36 million birds from East India.[10]

The Society attracted support from some women of high social standing who belonged to the social classes that popularised the wearing of feathered hats, including the ornithologist Professor Alfred Newton, it gained in popularity and attracted many new members. The society received a Royal Charter in 1904 from Edward VII, and was instrumental in petitioning the Parliament of the United Kingdom to introduce laws banning the use of plumage in clothing.[8]

At the time that the Society was founded in Britain, similar societies were also founded in other European countries.[11] In 1961, the society acquired The Lodge in Sandy, Bedfordshire as its new headquarters.[8]


Today, the RSPB works with both the conservation status list for all birds found in the UK.


South Stack reserve, Anglesey, with Ellin's Tower, housing a visitor centre

The RSPB maintains over 200 reserves throughout the United Kingdom,[6] covering a wide range of habitats, from estuaries and mudflats to urban habitats.[13] The reserves often have bird hides provided for birdwatchers and many provide visitor centres, which include information about the wildlife that can be seen there.[14]


The RSPB confers awards, including the President's Award, for volunteers who make a notable contribution to the work of the society.

RSPB Medal

The RSPB say:

The RSPB Medal is the Society's most prestigious award. It is presented to an individual in recognition of wild bird protection and countryside conservation. It is usually awarded annually to one or occasionally two people.[15]

Recipients of the medal, first awarded in 1908,[16] include:


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

Bird Notes

Bird Notes  
Cover of Autumn 1946 issue of Bird Notes, Vol. 23, No. 3
Discipline Ornithology
Language English
Publication details
RSPB (United Kingdom)
Publication history
1903 (1903)-1966
ISSN 0406-3392
Advert for Bird Notes and News from the March 1934 edition of North Western Naturalist magazine. Note early logo.

Bird Notes and News (ISSN 0406-3392) was first published in April 1903.

The title changed to Bird Notes in 1947. In the 1950s, there were four copies per year (one for each season, published on the 1st of each third month, March, June, September and December). Each volume covered two years, spread over three calendar years. For example, volume XXV (25), number one was dated Winter 1951, and number eight in the same volume was dated Autumn 1953.

From the mid-1950s, many of the covers were by Charles Tunnicliffe. Two of the originals are on long-term loan to the Tunnicliffe gallery at Oriel Ynys Môn, 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.[22]

From January 1964 (vol. 31, no. 1), publication increased to six per year, (issued in the odd-numbered months, January, March and so on, but dated "January–February", "March–April", etc.). Volumes again 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)


Discipline Ornithology
Language English
Edited by Mark Ward
Publication details
RSPB (United Kingdom)
Publication history
1966 (1966)–2013 (2013)
Frequency Quarterly
ISSN 1367-983X
  • Journal homepage

Bird Notes' successor Birds (ISSN 1367-983X) 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.

The Autumn 2013 edition, dated August–October 2013, being vol. 25 no. 7, was the last.[23]


Birds had eleven credited editors during its 47-year, 199 edition run. There were some dual editorships at times of change-over.

  • Jeremy Boswell (vol. 1 no.1 – vol. 1 no. 6)
  • Michael Everett (vol. 1 no. 6 and vol. 1 no. 7)
  • Nicholas Hammond (vol. 1 no. 7 – vol. 5 no. 5)
  • Gerald Searle (vol. 5 no. 6 – 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. 7)
  • Sarah Brennan (vol. 22 no. 7 – vol. 23 no. 3)
  • Mark Ward (vol. 23 no. 3 – vol. 25 no. 7)

Nature's Home

Nature's Home  
Discipline Ornithology
Language English
Edited by Mark Ward
Publication details
RSPB (United Kingdom)
Publication history
2013 (2013)–present
Frequency Quarterly
  • Journal homepage

In Winter 2013 Birds was replaced by a new magazine, Nature's Home.[24] The editor was Mark Ward.[25] The magazine had an ABC-certified circulation of 600,885.[25]

Junior divisions

The RSPB has two separate groups for children and teenagers: Wildlife Explorers (founded in 1943 as the Junior Bird Recorders' Club; from 1965–2000 the Young Ornithologists Club or YOC[8]) and RSPB Phoenix. Wildlife Explorers is targeted at children aged between 8 and 12, although it also has some younger members,[26] 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.[27] The RSPB is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services.[28]

Big Garden Birdwatch

RSPB organises bird record data collection in annual collective birdwatching days in Britain. RSPB claims this is the "world's biggest wildlife survey" and helps that society to get a better knowledge on bird population trends in Britain.[29] That activity was launched in 1979 as an activity for kids, although from 2001 is a survey open to adults too. In 2011 over 600,000 people took part, being only 37% RSPB's members. The usual date for this birdwatching collective activity is the January's last weekend. From the start of this annual survey records for sparrows show a decline of 60%, while starling population's decline is about 80% from 1979 to 2012.[29]

State of Nature Report

In 2013 the RSBP and a collaborative partnership of 25 UK conservation and research organisations published the first United Kingdom State of Nature Report, and which generally found a profound decline in native wildlife species in recent years: "The report reveals that 60 per cent of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether."[30]

The report encompasses the islands of the UK and overseas territories, and provides a number of possible reasons for the cited declines, including for climate change, intensive farming methods, and habitat degradation. It is hoped that the report will increase public awareness and promote conservation measures and government policy locally and nationally.[31]


The RSPB is funded primarily by its members; in 2006, over 50% of the society's £88 million income came from gift aid worth an extra £0.28 on every £1.00 donated by income tax payers.[32] It also receives contractual payments from clean energy utilities and financiers of renewable energy solutions, when its members sign up as clients.[33] 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.


Winifred Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland, painted by Philip Alexius de László in 1912

Chief officers

Over time, the organisation's chief officers have been given different titles.

  • William Henry Hudson – Chairman of Committee 1894
  • Sir Montagu Sharpe, KBE DL – Chairman of Committee 1895–1942
  • Phillip Brown
  • Peter Conder OBE – Secretary 1963. Director 1964–1975
  • Ian Prestt CBE – Director General 1975–1991
  • Barbara Young – CEO 1991–1998
  • Sir Graham Wynne – CEO 1998–2010
  • Mike Clarke – Chief Executive incumbent


Associate organisations

The RSPB is a member of Wildlife and Countryside Link.[37] The RSPB is the UK Partner of BirdLife International[38] and manages the South Atlantic Invasive Species Project on behalf of the partner governments.

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g RSPB Annual Report, 2005–2006. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
  2. ^ Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Registered Charity no. 207076 at the Charity Commission
  3. ^ Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Registered Charity no. SC037654 at the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator
  4. ^ "What does the RSPB do?". RSPB. Archived from the original on 2 January 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  5. ^ "About the RSPB". RSPB. Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  6. ^ a b "Reserves". RSPB. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Penna (1999), p. 99.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Milestones". RSPB. Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  9. ^ a b "History of the RSPB". RSPB. Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  10. ^ Adams (2004), p. 189.
  11. ^ Boardman (2006), p. 36.
  12. ^ "Working Together: Government". RSPB. Archived from the original on 3 January 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  13. ^ "Reserves by habitat". RSPB. Retrieved 20 February 2007. 
  14. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". RSPB. Retrieved 20 February 2007. 
  15. ^ a b c Reynolds, James (2007-08-23). "Gifted naturalist is awarded prestigious RSPB medal". RSPB. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Independent journalist wins RSPB medal". Birdwatch. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Avery, Mark (2011-10-10). "Top scientist slams government". Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Robert returns to his roots". Henley Standard. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Speaker Profiles". Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "Aberdeen graduate bags prestigious RSPB Medal".  
  21. ^ "The Prince of Wales Receives Medal". KFW. March 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  22. ^ RSPB Birds magazine, Vol 16 No 01, February–April 1996, page 10
  23. ^ Ward, Mark (Autumn 2013). "Introducing your new magazine, Nature's Voice". Birds 25 (7).  
  24. ^ Ward, Mark (30 September 2013). "Nature's Home is coming...". RSPB. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  25. ^ a b Nature's Home (Winter 2013). 
  26. ^ "About youth groups". RSPB. Retrieved 20 February 2007. 
  27. ^ "Gift Membership". RSPB. Retrieved 20 February 2007. 
  28. ^ "Full list of NCVYS members". Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  29. ^ a b Birds. Spring 2013 vol. 25, nº5. February – April 2013. page 18.
  30. ^ "RSBP State of Nature Report". Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  31. ^ "BBC Nature Article: How to help wildlife". Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  32. ^ "Gift Aid". RSPB. Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  33. ^ Dellingpole, James (7 April 2013). "RSPB makes a killing... from windfarm giants behind turbines accused of destroying rare birds". Daily Mail. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  34. ^ a b c RSPB Birds magazine, Vol 13 No 7, Autumn 1991
  35. ^ Jamieson, Alastair (3 October 2009). "Springwatch star Kate Humble appointed president of RSPB". Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  36. ^ Hogg, Gemma (12 October 2013). "Miranda Krestovnikoff becomes RSPB President". 
  37. ^ "Wildlife and Countryside Link, Our members". Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  38. ^ "RSPB, Our partnership with BirdLife International". Retrieved 2014-01-31. 


External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.