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The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) implemented the European Birds Directive of 1979, along with the Bern Convention of 1979. This page cannot cover all aspects of the law or bird ecology, but is an introduction to show how you can help to protect these species.

pair of shovelers in water

All wild birds, their nests and their eggs are protected under the Act. It is an offence intentionally to:

  • Kill, injure or take any wild bird,
  • Take, damage or destroy the nest of a Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle or Osprey (even if disused),
  • Take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use or being built,
  • Take, damage or destroy an egg or any wild bird,
  • Or to possess any live or dead wild bird or the egg of any wild bird, or any derivative

Furthermore, many rare birds are listed on Schedule 1, which makes it an offence intentionally or recklessly to:

  • Disturb a Schedule 1 bird while it is building a nest or is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young; or
  • Disturb dependent young of such a bird

For a list of Schedule 1 birds, see ‘Legally protected birds in Wales’.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) issues licences for specific purposes, so that you can undertake legitimate work without breaking the law. See ‘Bird licensing’ for more information.

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