Behavioural notations


Singing individuals should be circled


Calling individuals should be underlined


Alarm calling individuals should be double underlined


Generally singing notations are reserved for passerines but  is also often used for advertising vocalisations of game birds, waders (eg drummimng snipe), raptors and drumming woodpeckers (despite such vocalisations not technically defined as song). 

Vocalisations such as the screams of swifts are considered calls.

This is acceptable for vocalisations associated with breeding/mate selection.


A bird detected in flight should be plotted at the point of detection with a line (no arrow) denoting the direction of flight


A bird detected in flight which then lands should be plotted as a flight line with an arrow and species code at the terminus


 Solid lines indicate the same individual and dotted lines a different individual.

A bird flushed from the ground should be plotted at the point of detection with a line showing the direction of light, with an arrow at the terminus


As nest sites are rarely located during impact surveys birds flushed from the ground, particular during the breeding season, may be nesting nearby and are therefore important in assessing impacts

Other Notations

Aggressive encounters between two individuals (both inter- and intra- species interactions) should be denoted by radiating lines

Birds circling or aerial foraging over a small area of land can be marked with a short arc.

This can be useful to summarise what would otherwise take up large areas of the map.

It should only be used where birds are associated with the site, very high observations should be omitted.

Important Notes

The above behavioural notation is not designed to be prescriptive, just an indication as to what notation can be used if required to aid the interpretation of breeding bird survey results.