Skip Navigation

This is a new website – your feedback will help us improve it.

Birds and the law

All wild birds are protected under law when they are nesting under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). In addition Schedule 1 species are protected at all times.


  • To kill, injure or take any wild bird.
  • Take, damage or destroy a nest while it is in use or being built.
  • Take or destroy eggs.
  • Possess or control any wild bird (dead or alive) or any part of a wild bird which has been taken in contravention of the Act or the Protection of Birds Act 1954.
  • Possess or control any egg or part of an egg which has been taken in contravention to the Act.
  • Possess or control any live bird of prey of any species in the world (with the exception of vultures and condors) unless it is registered and ringed.
  • Disturb any wild bird listed on schedule 1 of the Act while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.

Also, see Naturenet for further details in respect to offences of selling, trading, exhibiting, keeping in captivity and registering for possessing/controlling certain species.


  • A general licence may be obtained to allow an authorised person to destroy or take a nest of eggs of certain species of birds.
  • In certain circumstances the killing of wild birds (excluding those listed on schedule 1) is permitted under a licence but only if it is necessary for the purpose of preserving public health or air safety, preventing spread of disease or preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber or fisheries.
  • If confident that it can be proven in court an injured bird may be taken in order to rehabilitate it.
  • Licences to take a wild bird may be obtained for various purposes, e.g. scientific research, ringing, conservation.

Also, see Naturenet for further details in respect to exceptions for certain gaming birds and for the full list of licences.

If any activities are undertaken that result in any of the above an offence would be committed under the law. If prosecuted, fines of about £1,000 (per bird or nest) can be applied, except for offences against schedule 1 birds where the fine applied could be £5,000 or imprisonment.

Further Information: