BIRD NESTING - SUMMARY• Bird Nesting season is classed as being from 1st March until 31st July.• Vegetation or site clearance should be done outside of the nesting season (1st March – 31st July inclusive), although the nesting period may start before this and extend beyond it, in many cases (e.g. barn owls can breed at any month of the year in the UK). This is toavoid impact to nesting birds and infringement of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.• If clearance work has to be undertaken during the nesting season, a breeding bird survey needs to be carried out by a suitably qualified person. As a general rule, it should beassumed that birds will be nesting in trees, scrub, reeds or substantial ditch sidevegetation during the core breeding period, unless a survey had shown this not to be thecase. In addition, some species are ground nesting, such as the skylark and lapwing, bothof which can occur on grassland areas and cleared sites where there is a time lapsebetween demolition and development.• Any active nests identified should be protected until the young have fledged. Where a Schedule 1(3) species is involved, mitigation for impacts, e.g. loss of nesting site, should be devised and implemented.• Particular attention should be paid to any site clearance/development work affecting buildings, as this is where swifts, swallows, house martins and barn owls preferentiallychoose to nest.LEGAL PROTECTIONAll wild birds(1) are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), whilst they are actively nesting or roosting. Section 1 of this Act, makes it an offence to kill,injure or take any wild bird, and to intentionally(2) take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built. It is also an offence to take or destroy anywild bird eggs.In addition, bird species listed under Schedule 1(3) of the Act receive extra protection. The Act states that ‘it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly(4) disturb any wild bird listed in Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at (or near) a nest containing eggs or young, ordisturb the dependent young of such a bird’.The maximum penalty for each offence in the Magistrates’ Court is a £5000 fine and/or sixmonths imprisonment and a £5000 fine and two years imprisonment in the Crown Court.Exceptions:An authorised person (i.e. someone who has the written consent or the owner oroccupier), may fell or prune a dangerous tree in order to preserve public health and safety.If Schedule 1(3) birds would be affected, then a licence from DEFRA is required. Similarly a licence is also required for tree work deemed necessary for reasons other than health andsafety.Accidental injury, killing or disturbance of a wild bird, as a result of a lawful tree operationmay not be an offence, provided it can be shown that the harm could not have beenreasonably avoided.Definitions:1. A wild bird is defined as ‘any bird which is resident in, or a visitor to Great Britain in a wild state’. (Game birds are not included in this definition. They are covered under the Games Acts, which fully protect them during the closed season).2. It will be an intentional act if, for example, a contractor continues to reduce or remove a hedgerow, tree or shrub, after he/she discovers, or is told that birds are nesting there. The discovery of a nest during the process of work will also prohibit furthercutting work within an area or buffer zone around the nest.3. Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Schedule 1 Birds.