EcoNorth > What We Do > Ornithology


Bird, Birds, ornithology, Birds Survey, Bird Survey, Wintering Bird Survey, Breading Bird Survey, Breading Bird Check

Our Love of Birds


When breeding, all wild birds, their eggs, and their nests are protected. Certain species of birds are offered a higher degree of protection, making it an offence to recklessly or deliberately disturb them during the breeding season.

All bird species are protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). All species listed under Schedule 1 of this act receive a higher level of protection as described above. Examples of Schedule 1 birds include Barn Owl, Kingfisher and Crossbill.

The EU Birds Directive requires member states to designate Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in the UK that are designated specifically to safeguard internationally important populations of birds (when breeding or wintering). These sites receive strict protection in order to prevent negative impacts to birds and form part of a wider network of sites across the European Union. SPAs require detailed consideration in any ecological assessment. The legislation relating to SPAs and constituent qualifying species is The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. Further information on these regulations and the assessment process can be found here.

When do I need to get in touch?

Birds utilise a variety of habitats to forage and structures, including those which are man-made, to roost and breed. The potential of a site to support birds is related to these features.

The potential for a site to support important or notable populations of birds, or Schedule 1 species, is usually identified during a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal or Phase 1 Habitat Survey . If a site has potential to support important or notable populations or species, then a survey or range of surveys may be required to assess the site’s usage by birds.

In order to prevent delays to your projects schedule, it is important to identify the need for bird surveys as early as possible due to the nature of bird ecology, biology and best practice guidelines from Natural England. More detailed guidance on when different survey types can be carried can be found on the When Can I Do My Survey? page.

To prevent delays in your project, it is important to get in touch as early as possible. The presence of important or notable populations of birds can be highly seasonal, with different habitats being important at different times in the year.

How can EcoNorth help me?

We advise you on bird protection and your options. We undertake all types of bird surveys, licencing and mitigation. EcoNorth is able to present survey results in detailed, professional reports to inform and support your project’s planning application or other consenting process.

Types of bird survey EcoNorth undertakes include:

Breeding Bird Survey: Often required as part of any ecological appraisal, these are typically spread across the breeding season between April and July. At least one early-season visit and one late-season visit must be completed. A range of survey methods are available depending on the habitat and target species.

Breeding Bird Checking Survey: Applied when necessary to remove potential nesting habitat within the breeding season. The breeding bird check involves a detailed check of vegetation or structures to ensure that no active nests are present. If found to have no active nests, works must commence within 5 days, or additional surveys must be undertaken.

Wintering Bird Survey: Required at locations with habitats capable of supporting aggregations of wintering species including coastal areas, wetlands or areas in close proximity to sites designated for wintering or migratory birds.

Vantage Point (VP) Surveys: Most commonly used where there is a requirement to observe how birds are using a site or the air space above it. Wind energy developments are a key example of the sort of project that may require this type of survey.

Barn Owl Surveys: These may be required when a development is likely to impact a building or buildings that are suitable for breeding Barn Owls.

Species-Specific Surveys: These surveys are required where Schedule 1 or SPA qualifying species are thought to be present.

Due to the diversity of bird species in the UK, there are a wealth of different survey techniques and best-practice guidelines which we are fully conversant in.

Whatever the requirements of your project, EcoNorth can tailor individual or suites of bird surveys to fulfil any requirements of the planning or regulatory process.