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Bird and Barn Owl Surveys

All wild birds are protected by law in England and Wales

Protection for Wild Birds

All UK wild birds, and their nests, are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981(as amended) which means that it is an offence to:

• Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird.
• Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.
• Intentionally take or destroy the egg of any wild bird.
• possess, control or transport live or dead wild birds, or parts of them, or their eggs.
• sell wild birds or put them on display for sale.
• use prohibited methods to kill or take wild birds.

A red list is also applied to the UK bird population which separates different bird species according to the population trends and numbers of each species. Red listed species are of conservation concern, amber listed species are or critical concern while green listed species are least critical.

 The protection is required because the UK bird population has suffered a significant decline in numbers due to habitat loss through the intensification of agricultural practices and building and development works. These threats have caused a loss in feeding and nesting opportunities due to the removal of habitats such as hedgerows and the renovation of old buildings.

What legislation is there in place for Barn Owls?

Barn owls are classified as a schedule 1 species, a certain group of birds that have a higher level of protection within the law. Schedule 1 species are further protected making it an offence to intentionally or recklessly:

• disturb them while they’re nesting, building a nest, in or near a nest that contains their young.
• disturb their dependent young.

barn owl
owl pellets

Why might I need a bird or barn owl survey?

A bird survey aims to assess the impacts of a proposed development to inform avoidance, mitigation, and compensation methods are an essential part of any development project. Therefore, a bird survey is required if the planned works will removed or disturb habitat that supports birds, such as hedgerows, trees, dense scrub or barns/ old buildings. 

A bird survey will also be needed if the development impacts a nearby habitat, such as a lake, that supports known rare bird species/ schedule 1 species or which is determined to be important habitat for overwintering birds.

A barn owl survey is required if there is a potential for nest sites such as old buildings or any mature trees that have large cavities.

Download our free survey calendar to ensure that surveys are scheduled to form part of your timescale.