Early in 1936 a meeting was held in Edinburgh attended by Miss Baxter, Miss Rintoul, H F D Elder and George Waterston, where it was revealed that steps should be taken to found a national (bird) club.

This (right) is how Ian Pennie, describes the momentous decision to form the SOC, when many of the most eminent names in Scottish ornithology met together in the rooms of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in Edinburgh on 24 March 1936.

Several of those involved, notably George Waterston, would go on to play a major role in the development of Scotland’s conservation policies. Alongside George at this initial meeting were the “good ladies”, Evelyn Baxter and Leonora Rintoul, with the original invitations to attend the inaugural meeting being sent out under the names of Baxter and Waterston. Both ladies served as joint Presidents until 1948 and Honorary Presidents thereafter.

The Club’s promotion of the systematic recording and study of birds was and has remained central to its ethos: its establishment of a network of local bird recorders and other bird recording schemes provided one of the bases upon which subsequent conservation activities developed and helped to provide the factual foundation to make those activities far more effective.

Visit our Obituaries page to explore the lives of a diverse range of Scottish ornithologists.

SOC Milestones

  • 1936 – SOC is founded 
  • 1948 – first SOC Annual Conference (in Aberdeen)
  • 1958 – first issue of Scottish Birds published 
  • 1968 -  SOC forms the Local Recorders’ Network
  • 1969 - first Scottish Bird Report published
  • 2005 - Club Headquarters relocate to Waterston House at Aberlady
  • 2007 – Publication of the award-winning The Birds of Scotland
  • 2007 - The Club partners on Bird Atlas 2007 - 2011 project
  • 2009 – Scottish Birds revamped  
  • 2011 – SOC publishes The Birds of Scotland Digital edition
  • 2013 – 15th branch of the Club forms (Moray Branch)
  • 2014 – Membership peaks at over 3000 members for the first time in the Club’s history
  • 2014 – SOC launches the Young Birders Training Course (YBTC) in collaboration with Isle of May Bird Observatory
  • 2018 - The YBTC gets shortlisted for the Nature of Scotland Youth and Education Award
  • 2019 - SOC launches its first ever mobile app - Where to Watch Birds in Scotland
  • 2019 - Where to Watch Birds in Scotland is Birdwatch magazine Birders' Choice Awards 2019 'Product of the Year' Winner
  • 2020 - Where to Watch Birds in Scotland is the BTO/Marsh Award Winner for Local Ornithology