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Early publications

Prior to Birds of Wiltshire, there were three significant books on the county's birds:

  • The Birds of Wiltshire, Smith 1887
  • The Birds of Wiltshire, Buxton 1981
  • Wiltshire Birds, Palmer 1991

The earliest of these is a comprehensive (588-page) account of all species seen in Wiltshire by the late 19th Century, though many of the Rev AC Smith's anecdotes are from his travels in Europe and Africa. Naturally, it reflects the avifauna at the time, with 26 pages devoted to Great Bustard alone.

Buxton (1981) was the first modern review. The majority of this book comprised the systematic list, with brief accounts for each species. There were also comprehensive sections on six major ornithological sites or habitats in the county. Palmer (1991) served as an update to Buxton, documenting signficant records and status changes during the 1980s.

Before the formation of WOS, sightings in the county were published in the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine (WANHM). The first comprehensive annual report for the county was for 1929, and – except for a gap in 1935 and, during wartime, another for 1937–45 (although two condensed summaries were published) – these continued to be published in WANHM until 1974, when WOS was formed and the reports were published separately in Hobby.

Palmer can be purchased through WOS. Please contact John Osborne (01373 864598 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Copies of Smith and Buxton may be found in specialist second-hand book stores, but expect to pay £75–100 for Smith, and £10–15 for Buxton.

A more or less complete list of all ornithological publications concerning Wiltshire, originally compiled for Birds of Wiltshire, is available in a bibliography.

Of course, all of these publications were researched when writing Birds of Wiltshire, so ensure you purchase that for the most recent and complete picture of the county's avifauna.

Information about WOS

Wiltshire Ornithological Society was formed on November 30th, 1974, and has grown in recent years to more than 500 members.

Our mission is to encourage and pursue the study, recording and conservation of birds in Wiltshire

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