Your Vigilance is Required – Nesting Birds

Work over the next few months MUST BE PLANNED TO TAKE ACCOUNT OF NESTING BIRDS and avoid delays, rescheduling and unwanted public attention.

  • The breeding season for birds starts early in February becoming busier in March and running on into late summer.

Nesting birds found on site once work starts results in delays, having to stop work or establish additional buffer zones.

The majority of reports we receive tend to be in early May and many involve brushcutting and strimming operations with birds found nesting in gorse, ivy and bushes on site.

On all our worksites we must avoid impacting on nesting birds and must comply with the regulations protecting them.

All wild birds are protected by law throughout the UK when they are nesting. It is illegal to kill or injure any wild birds or damage or destroy the nest or eggs. Certain birds are especially protected making it illegal to disturb these species while they are nesting, examples of these on our forestry sites are raptors such as Goshawk, Red Kite, Osprey and the White-tailed Eagle.

While some species of birds may be regarded as pests or vermin we can’t kill or destroy these bird’s nests or eggs unless we have a Licence to do this. Anyone being granted a licence must also be able to clearly demonstrate that they are doing it for certain specific reasons including preventing the spread of disease and preserving public health or public safety.

More than 400 species of birds are regularly recorded in the UK, these include both resident breeding species and migrants. Species show different preferences for nesting but, as we found last year, most birds are more likely to nest in scrub or hedgerow.


  • Every thick hedge, area of scrub vegetation or mature tree is a potential nest site.
  • Any work carried out must not damage the nests of breeding birds or be in the vicinity of the nests of those specially protected species.
  • To be alert to nesting If nesting birds are found on site, all works in that area will have to stop until the birds have completed breeding.

What to look for before work starts:

  • Breeding activity on site, courtship activities or nest building.
  • Potential nest sites.
  • Nestling/fledgling feeding activity.

There are a number of Toolbox Talks available on breeding birds and raptors.

Over the coming weeks please make good use of these at pre-start meetings and work instruction briefings.

  • Breeding Birds (TT/37)
  • Nest Identification – is it a common buzzard (TT/79)
  • White-tailed Eagle (TT/72)

Toolbox talks are available to our approved contractors by accessing our Contractor Portal here: http://www.tilhill.com/contractors

Please request access and a login will be sent by return.


  • Check for signs of nesting at the beginning of each day


  • Stop work if you find an occupied nest and immediately contact the site manager