Chris Perrins joined the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology in October 1957 as a research assistant to David Lack working on the Blue and Great tits in Wytham Woods. This project developed into the EGI’s long-term study of these species in Wytham, now overseen by Professor Ben Sheldon.
He has also been involved with two other long-term projects. A study of Mute swans on the River Thames and at the colony at Abbotsbury, Dorset. Amongst other things his team high-lighted the large numbers of deaths of swans from swallowing lead angling weights; this work lead to the banning of the use and sale of most sizes of lead weights, followed by a pleasing increase in swan numbers. In addition he has studied the seabirds on the Pembrokeshire islands of Skokholm and Skomer, looking especially at Manx shearwaters, Puffins and Razorbills.
During his time at the EGI he supervised almost 100 students for D.Phils. He was President of the International Ornithological Congress 1990-1994 and of the European Ornithological Union 1993-97. He was appointed Director of the EGI in 1974, elected Professor of Ornithology in 1992, Fellow of the Royal Society in 1997 and appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order in 1987. He was also appointed Her Majesty’s Swan Warden in 1993.