Submission of papers, notes and letters

British Birds welcomes original contributions from amateur and professional ornithologists alike. Material for publication should have something new to say about birds recorded in the Western Palearctic or species of significant interest to birdwatchers in the region. Articles might range from one or two short paragraphs describing a newly recorded bird behaviour, to more detailed submissions on (for example) the identification of a difficult species, the results of a local study which might have wider implications, or the findings of a major research project. Key topics of interest for the journal include behaviour, conservation, distribution, ecology, identification, movements, populations and taxonomy. 

British Birds publishes material dealing with original observations on the birds of the Western Palearctic. Papers, notes and letters are accepted for publication on condition that the material is not being offered in whole or in part to any other journal or magazine. Photographs and drawings are welcomed. Referees are used where appropriate, and all submissions are reviewed by the BB Editorial Board or Notes Panel.

Papers should be concise and factual, taking full account of previous literature and avoiding repetition as much as possible. Opinions should be based on adequate evidence. Authors are encouraged to submit their work to other ornithologists for critical assessment and comment prior to submission. Such help received should be acknowledged in a separate section. For main papers, an abstract summarising the key results and conclusions should be included, but should not exceed 5% of the total length. Authors should carefully consult this issue for style of presentation, especially of references and tables. 

English names, scientific names and sequence of species in pubications follow the BB list or, for non-West Palearctic species, the latest IOC list. Names of plants should follow Field Flora of the British Isles (Stace 1999). Names of mammals should follow Mammals of the World (Duff & Lawson, 2004). Topographical (plumage and structure) and ageing terminology should follow editorial recommendations (Brit. Birds 74: 239–242; 78: 419–427; 80: 502).

Contributions must be submitted in a .doc or .docx Microsoft Word document by e-mail to [email protected]. Submission using other word-processing software or online will not be accepted. Graphs must be submitted with original data in a .xls or .xlsx Microsoft Excel file. Exceptions will be made for high-resolution, layered .tiff files or similar. Hand-drawn figures or illustrations should be submitted as good-quality scans at 300 dpi and with a print size of at least 20 cm.

Photosgraphs should ideally be submitted as unadjusted RAW files, unedited TIF files, or, if neccesary, as JPEG files saved at 100% quality.

Illustrations and slides can be scanned by British Birds – contact the Editor to arrange this.

Authors of main papers (but not notes or letters) will receive five free copies of the journal (plus three each to subsidiary authors of multi-authored papers). Further copies may be available on request in advance, but will be charged for. A schedule of payment rates for contributors (we pay a small amount for the text for main papers, for artwork and for front-cover photographs) is available from the Editor.


We welcome the submission of photographs for publication in BB. Photographs should be of a high standard with the subject clearly visible and in focus. Images published in the magazine may also be reproduced here, on the BB website. There is no payment made for photographed used in issues of British Birds.

Only images of the very highest quality will be considered for the cover, and these should be sized to 176 mm wide x 256 mm deep. We also feature artwork on the cover according to availability. A payment of £50 is made for photographs published on the front cover.


BB welcomes the submission of artwork relevant to topics published in British Birds. In particular, we welcome single-species illustrations of species featured in the Rare Breeding Birds Panel or Scarce Migrant reports, or illustrations of specific indvidual rarities for inclusion in the BBRC's annual report. There is no fee paid for the publication of artwork that has been submitted to BB.

The print edition of British Birds measures 170 mm wide and 250 mm deep. All artwork submitted for the cover should be at least 20% larger – 212.5 mm x 312.5 mm, or in those exact proportions thereafter. To allow for a little leeway and cropping margins at the printers (known as bleed) an additional 10 mm needs to be provided on all sides, giving a total minimum image area of 232.5 mm x 332.5 mm. Your painting should cover the whole image area but nothing important to the painting should be in the bleed area, since it will be trimmed to a greater or lesser degree.

The BB logo, title and volume details remain in the same format on every issue and are in the same position on the cover. It is very important to consider this when planning your design. The top 20% (or the top 70 mm at 232.5 mm x 332.5 mm dimensions) must be diffuse with no strong contrast that would interfere with the clear reading of journal’s title. Do not allow important features (such as your bird or its support) to run through it.

The headings to the main articles each month are printed on the cover, either set in a column towards the bottom left- or right-hand side of the cover, or running across the bottom. The artist will not know what they will be, nor how much room they will take up but you should allow an average amount of space for them, judged by looking at recent issues. The painting here should also be diffuse and of a mid tone to ensure clarity. Look back over previous issues to compare the readability against the varying backgrounds.

Your painting may be of any bird (or birds) on the BB Western Palearctic list, preferably not a species used on a recent cover as an artwork or a photograph. They must not infringe copyright (ie, they must not be copied from another image). You should place your bird in a suitable background taking great care that the scale of the surroundings is correct (no giant birds on 10″ fence posts or birds perched on walls made of 2″-long bricks please). Subjects of a very macabre (a Great Black-backed Gull skinning a live Puffin) or controversial (a Ruddy Duck being shot) nature may not enhance the chances of your design being chosen.

A reproduction fee of £100 will be paid to the artist at the time of publication, and the painting will be returned to the artist after use. Clearly this does not reflect the time and effort invested in artwork, but it does provide a platform to showcase the piece. BB will be happy to advertise the piece for sale inside the front cover, and/or promote a forthcoming exhibition or book (etc.). All paintings used remain the copyright and property of the artist.

If you have a painting to be considered as a BB front cover, please e-mail a low resolution scan to the BB editor, e-mail [email protected]

All potential cover designs will be assessed by the BB art consultants and the editorial team – hopefully you will appreciate that we cannot promise to publish a piece that we haven’t seen first.

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