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General Protection for Wild Birds

Information on general protection for wild birds.

Barn Owl (copyright Jon Hawkins)Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 all wild birds, their nests and eggs are protected species.

It is an offence for a person to do any of the following:

If any person intentionally:

  • Kills, injures or takes any wild bird.
  • Takes, damages or destroys the nest of a wild bird species which re-uses their nests such as the golden and white tailed eagle and osprey.
  • Takes, damages or destroys the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built.
  • Takes or destroys an egg of any wild bird.

Intentionally or recklessly:

  • Disturbs any wild bird while it is building a nest or is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young; or disturbs dependent young of such a bird.

Be in possession or control of:

  • Any live or dead wild bird or any part of anything derived from such a bird.
  • An egg of a wild bird or any part of such an egg.

Sale of Live Wild Birds and Their Eggs

The collecting of wild birds eggs has been illegal since 1954. It is an offence even to possess the eggs of wild birds which have been taken in contravention of either the old Protection of Birds Act 1954 or the current Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which replaced it.