Despite this less than pleasant weather, evidence of Spring is beginning to emerge. Snowdrops, daffodils and celandine are already flowering and magpies and crows are carrying oversized sticks to add to their nests for the coming breeding season.
Yes, bird breeding season has ‘officially’ (arbitrarily) begun as of the 1st of March.
As a reminder, all wild birds are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981 as amended, including their nests and eggs. Specifically, this means it is unlawful to intentionally or recklessly:
Therefore, if you know a bird’s nest is active it must be left alone. Additionally, there are three other key points. They are:
These general points are a good guide, but species ecology must also be considered. For example, male wrens will often build up to six nests to try and woo a female to see which one she likes best, each of which is protected until it is proven to be inactive.
For species listed under Schedule 1 of the WCA such as barn owl or kingfisher, they are afforded additional protection from disturbance. This very much depends on the species, but it is always recommended that the Precautionary Principle is applied unless there is overwhelming evidence to override it. Again, knowledge of species ecology is important as the young of several species are reliant on adults after fledging.
The overriding message of this note is to plan de-vegetation, ground preparation or construction well in advance so that risks to project progress from nesting birds can be mitigated, if not entirely negated. This will save money, time and prevent any unintended illegal wrongdoing.