You Forgot the Birds is a new network designed to monitor conservation charities and put fair questions to the RSPB about how the charity is really protecting birdlife


The RSPB is a charity. The RSPB is particularly a charity set up for the protection of birds. The RSPB seems to have relegated that. The Field has already questioned the RSPCA: Animal rights or animal welfare? Now it is time for someone to question the RSPB. And that is set to be done with vigour.

You Forgot the Birds is a network of individuals passionate about bird habitat. The network includes naturalists and sportsmen, farmers, landowners, self-confessed birders, conservationists, those who live in the town and country. You Forgotten the Birds has been set up to challenge the RSPB’s perceived lack of interest in the birds it should be protecting. With the backing of Sir Ian Botham, Marytn Howat (former director of Natural England) and The Field’s own Sir Johnny Scott, Bt. You Forgot the Birds sets out to ask fair questions of the RSPB.

The RSPB is “the charity that forgot its mission” says You Forgot the Birds.


“What disturbs many bird lovers is their perception that an organisation that once stood head and shoulders above the rest in defence of birdlife has gone astray. It’s not just that the RSPB recently relegated its “protecting birds” mission for a soft sell conservation image.

“They fear that it has also sold its soul and become a giant fundraising machine where decisions are made not according to what is good for birds but what will keep the RSPB’s revenues growing. Their disquiet is that its hoovering up of charitable funds and single-issue campaigning is toxic to bird welfare”.


So what is the answer to the RSPB’s lack of interest in all-round bird welfare? You Forgot the Birds is making a complaint to the Charities Commission

“We have long been concerned that the conservation debate has been dominated by ideology rather than pragmatism. Single issue campaigns have pushed out a rounded view of how birds depend on the habitat people create for them along with careful management to stop boom and bust cycles when predator and prey numbers become unbalanced.

“Many bird lovers including Birdwatch Magazine are concerned that campaigning and fundraising are being put before habitat creation.

“At the centre of the debate lies the massive RSPB. It is spending far less on bird habitat than its supporters expect and is often ineffective at creating conditions for birds to flourish on its reserves.

“We have created this campaign to raise questions which deserve answers. We hope the Charity Commission, politicians and the media will help ensure that this happens.



“A regular question we ask is about the effectiveness of the various conservation groups at helping bird life to thrive. Who actually builds bird habitat? And who is just talk—great at fundraising but doing little real conservation?

You Forgot the Birds is going to examine the accounts of the RSPB and all the 47 Wildlife Trusts and get you the facts”.

If you would like to join this germinating group of conservation charity monitors then drop them an email.




  • Bill Brewer

    As someone who enjoys shooting and field sports I would agree that conservation charities, including the RSPB, should be open to scrutiny, as should groups representing the interests of shooting and field sports.

    However, the half-witted drivel that is being pushed through the website is utterly embarrassing. ‘homes for executives’, ‘RSPB not popular at dinner parties’, really? Did they get a bunch of stroppy teenagers to write this stuff?

    What could have been a well presented, well argued critique of the RSPB’s modus operandi has come over as a thinly veiled pathetic attempt by the shooting and field sports lobby to discredit the RSPB. It makes us look afraid and not a little stupid and I fear it may backfire.

    The best idea I can suggest is that is taken offline and put down to experience. If we as shooting and field sports enthusiasts have issues with the RSPB’s methods and ideas then we should challenge them in an open, honest and scientific way. For instance, describing Martyn Howat as a former Director of Natural England but omitting to say that he is also the immediate past chairman and a current council member of The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) may be seen to be not entirely open and honest.

  • Ian Whittaker

    As an RSPB member, my first reaction to this is that the RSPB must be getting it right. When a vested interest group starts to attack directly the organisations that hold some opposing views, it is usually a sign that it is worried that it is losing the arguments. As well as being a member, I regularly donate amounts for specific campaigns – most of them related to acquistion of land for providing new habitats which is very expensive.
    As a member, I see the RSPB accounts and while I wish they could spend more on creating new reserves and habitat, the opportunities are few and far between and as I said, expensive. It is perfectly legitimate for an organisation such as the RSPB to spend money on research – for example understanding the causes of bird declines and how to tackle them – you should try an evidence based approach it really is a very good way to promote a cause; on lobbying the law-makers whose decisions impact on our environment for good or bad every day – doing exactly what you are doing now; and on trying to raise more funds or else they cannot do any work at all – I don’t suppose you will be asking anybody for any money to help with your campaign then but you may be lucky enough to have the backing of some vested interests.
    Your argument seems to suggest that the RSPB focuses on a few species and does little on habitat creation and protection. This is just not true and you only have to look at the website and other publications to see the very wide range of activity that it undertakes. There are some species in a particularly precarious situation and there is, quite naturally, a lot of work going into protecting these. Some of these are birds of prey which, presumably, is the source of your concern as this leads to conflict with the shooting community and is particularly high profile. I suppose you would prefer the RSPB to be quiet, go away and just manage a few nature reserves. Unfortunately, this will not be enough to address the challenges that face bird conservation in this country that range from illegal shooting in Malta and human persecution in this country, loss of habitat from development and intensification of agriculture. That requires engagment with the people who make the decisions that can lead to positive change for conservation or perpetuate the long term decline of many of our bird species.
    Needless to say, I will follow your campaign with interest and take every opportunity to make my views known to the Charity Commission as an RSPB member.