The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is Europe’s largest conservation charity. Based in the United Kingdom, this organization is dedicated to the protection, preservation and conservation of all birds, from the most common backyard and garden birds to the rarest species in the UK.
The RSPB was initially founded in February 1889 in response to the Victorian era fashion trend of rare feather plumes adorning ladies’ hats, a trend that was endangering different bird species and leaving nestlings abandoned when parent birds were shot for their feathers. In November 1904, the organization was incorporated with their Royal Charter, formally marking the creation of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Early activities of the RSPB included printing educational pamphlets and leaflets to raise awareness of conservation issues, coordinating educational programs about birds, selling nestboxes to help garden and backyard birds and advocating legislation for official conservation and protection measures. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the RSPB bought the first tracts of land for a single reserve, marking the beginning of land preservation efforts that still continue today.
What the RSPB Does Today
Today, the RSPB does many of the same conservation and educational activities as it has for more than a century. With more than one million members and more than 13,500 volunteers, the society continues to advocate for legislation to protect birds and their habitats, including worldwide efforts through a partnership with BirdLife International. From a single reserve, the society’s protected lands have grown to more than 130,000 hectares (321,000 acres) in 200 nature reserves, many of which can be visited by conscientious birders.
One characteristic that distinguishes the RSPB from many other conservation organizations is that the society is concerned with the welfare of all birds, even the most common, whereas many other organizations focus on rare or threatened species. The RSPB believes that all birds have value, and the health of avian life can be a direct indication of the well being of the environment as a whole.
While the organization no longer needs to focus on women’s fashion trends for bird conservation, there are several modern issues that raise concerns related to bird preservation. Issues the RSPB monitors to gauge their impact on birds include climate change, transportation, urban growth and agriculture.
Joining the RSPB
Membership in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is open to everyone. Monthly donation rates of £3 (approximately $5) per month for up to two adults are recommended, though members may choose the amount they wish to donate. Youth memberships are £15 ($25) annually for one child or £25 ($40) for two or more children. Memberships can also be given as a gift.
Individuals who join the RSPB not only help conserve birds, but they can take advantage of other benefits as well.
- Free entry to more than 100 nature reserves through the United Kingdom
- BIRDS magazine subscription for adults, with other bird magazines for youth members
- Membership gift choice of a bird handbook or seed feeder (one per household; joining gifts cannot be sent overseas)
Different promotions are also available for new members through limited time offers.
For additional information about the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, including how to join, an online bird identifier, upcoming programs and more, visit RSPB.org.uk.
Image – RSPB Logo © Royal Society for the Protection of Birds