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What is a Bird?


Stupid question, I know. We all know what a bird is. But for those who aren’t sure, here’s a quick recap.


Birds (class Aves) are those feathery critters we find on every continent on the planet. They are recognisable as they all have feathers, wings (not always used for flying), beaks/bills and hard-shelled eggs. The world’s favourite go-to fact about birds is that they’re the last surviving dinosaur. This is true, to an extent. They are related to reptiles (feathers being adapted scales), and the first few birds were starting to take shape as the dinosaurs died off.


Birds tend to lay their eggs in nests, which can be found in trees, hedges, buildings, on the ground and even under the ground! Interestingly, the reason that most eggs are… egg shaped, is so that they can’t roll away like a sphere would.


How are Birds Protected?


All birds are offered protection by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which protects the eggs and nests of the birds. Some birds are listed under Schedule 1 of the amended version of the Act, which affords additional protection. However, all birds as standard


  • Kill, injure of take (catch/capture or have in one’s possession) a wild bird
  • Take, damage or destroy the nest of a wild bird, whilst the nest is in use or being built
  • Take or destroy an egg of a wild bird
  • Have in one’s possession or control a wild bird (dead or alive) or wild bird egg


Falcon Red Kite

Signs of Birds


Birds are everywhere, there are probably some flying around your house right now. So how do you know if they are going to be affected by whatever development or building you’re planning?


To begin with there will be obvious things, such as whether you have seen birds entering or leaving the area, whether there are bird droppings underneath potential perches, and if any nests are present.


Surveys for Birds




Breeding bird surveys are best conducted in spring-early summer. Most birds tend to nest and lay their eggs in May-August, with May and June being the peak months for breeding. This is not the case for all birds however, as some species such as barn owl and collared dove can breed year round. Wintering bird surveys are conducted from November-February.


Survey Methods


For a typical small development, it will first require a habitat suitability check. This is basically looking at all the types of habitat on the site, and deciding what is likely to be there, as different birds have different preferences. For instance, is that patch of rough grassland suitable for Lapwing or Skylark? Are the trees suitable for Barn Owls? Is that riverbank suitable for Kingfisher?


Generally, the methodology set out by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is followed. This says that a few visits are needed; one as a “reconnaissance” trip, doing what we talked about earlier – checking habitats, and two bird recording visits. The reconnaissance trip is also used to figure out where transects should be. The two recording visits should take place just after dawn and last about 90 minutes, as this is coincides with the peak activity of birds. The visits are used to record all birds seen and heard. Where possible, the distance is recorded in order to allow population density to be estimated. Additionally, any birds seen flying over are recorded.


Additionally to these transect surveys, specific nest surveys can be conducted. This would involve the identification of possible nest sites, and a thorough check to see if nests are present and/or occupied.


Wintering Bird Surveys are conducted with the same methodology, but tend to find less in the way of nests. They tend to be used around wetlands and coastal areas, as this is important for birds that over-winter in the UK, such as waders, ducks and geese.




If you’ve ever been outside, you probably know that hedgerows are incredibly common. Hedgerows, almost regardless of which plant species dominates, are ideal for nesting birds. The thick tangle of branches and leaves makes for an ideal hiding place for the little tweety birds we love so much. For this reason, it is commonly advised that any hedge removal be done outside of the bird nesting season. We do understand that this isn’t always possible though, and surveys can be done to see if any birds are using the offending hedgerow.

Bird Duck  Bird 2  Robin


Ben Jones




Sundorne Landscape

Noxious & Invasive Weeds