All wild bird species, their eggs and nests are protected by law under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. You must avoid harming birds or to use measures which do not kill or injure them before considering taking harmful action.

If vegetation is removed during the main bird nesting season (March-August inclusive), then an ecologist or competent person will need to be present to monitor the works and, if nesting sites are found, a ‘cordon sanitaire’ needs to be established around them and the chicks allowed to fledge before further action can be taken. Outside the main nesting period, no nesting checks are typically required, although some vigilance is recommended, as mild winters have extended the nesting season, and the law still applies – wood pigeons are particularly keen on unseasonal nesting!

Beware that standing timber can also host bat roosts, equally protected by law, and our ecologists can advise if this is likely. You should also seek assurances from your tree surgeons that adequate checks are made for roosting bats prior to timber removal.

You’re breaking the law if you:

  • intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds
  • intentionally take, damage or destroy a wild bird’s nest while it’s being used or built
  • intentionally take or destroy a wild bird’s egg

The EU also has legal protection for birds, with The Birds Directive, one of the oldest legislative items in the European Union. Amended in 2009, it became the Directive 2009/147/EC.

In summary, it concludes that Europe is home to more than 500 wild bird species, but at least 32% of the EU’s bird species are currently not in sound conservation status. The Birds Directive aims to protect all of the 500 wild bird species naturally occurring in the European Union.