Conflict between birds and human activities
All birds and their nests are protected, except for a small number of birds that can be shot in the open season, either under the Wildlife Act or the Game Acts (contact the DEFA Forestry, Amenity and Lands Directorate for details). If you need to do works where birds nest, do so after the young have left the nest and are no longer using it. It is best to plan ahead, determine which species might cause an issue at a site and plan for them, for example, prevent them from entering a building before the nesting season if works are planned to start during the nesting period. Most species nest between March and August inclusive. Late nests, in August, can be particularly important for the production of adequate numbers of young birds to sustain the population, for instance in yellowhammers and corncrakes. Where activities come into conflict with nesting birds, get advice from the Department's biodiversity officers. You may need a section 16 licence before proceeding with destructive or disturbing works though there are only specific purposes that can be licensed. It is an offence to disturb birds listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act, whilst they are at the nest, or to destroy the nest of any wild bird. Remember, once a protected wild bird has begun to build a nest, that nest is protected.
For this reason a good time to trim berry-bearing hedges and trees is late winter. Birds can then feed on the berries during the coldest months, but can nest undisturbed in the spring following pruning. If you rotate your cutting, you can cut them once every 2 or 3 years, leaving some hedge uncut each year for feeding birds and as roosting cover. A leaflet with guidelines on hedge cutting is available from the Department.
General licences are provided under section 16 of the Wildlife Act, for situations that would otherwise require an individual licence, but due to a regular and widespread requirement, a general licence is provided to remove an unnecessary administrative burden and allow immediate action. The wildlife licensing page, link right, provides further detail on section 16.
See downloadable documents for those available for widespread use. These are all to do with birds, mainly the control of birds in conflict with human activities.
General bird control licences are provided for a maximum of 2 years and are reviewed on a regular basis. Please check for the up to date versions (see downloadable documents). They may be used without further application, as long as the action is for the purpose specified on the licence and is within the conditions. Any situations falling outside of the specifications, will be considered on application to the Department for an individual licence. Any application must relate to one of the purposes specified in S16 of the Wildlife Act (see the application form on the wildlife licensing page).