Moving bird nests
Bird nests are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, so moving a nest at the wrong time could mean you're breaking the law. If you need to move a nest, read this page to find out when you are legally able to.
Bird flu warning
Due to the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) currently in place across the UK, some baby birds can't be handled. Please follow our bird flu and baby bird advice to check which species can be handled and what to do.
Moving or destroying nests
Birds are at their most vulnerable when nesting. Any disturbance could kill or injure wild birds and their young - or cause parent birds to abandon their nest, eggs and young.
Nests can't be moved or destroyed while they're being built or still in use - apart from under certain exceptions to allow the control of certain birds for specific reasons under licence.
Be careful not to break the law on bird nests
Anyone found guilty of an offence could be given a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment and an unlimited fine, which can be imposed in respect of each bird, nest or egg affected.
Avoid activities affecting nesting season
Also consider any other protected species that might be affected by the work, such as bats roosting in buildings.
A gull feeding a mouse to its young
Removing a nest that's no longer in use
With some exceptions, you can remove nests as long as they're not being built or in use. However, please keep in mind that some species will have more than one brood in the same nest in a given season.
What's more, unless there's a reason to remove the nest, leaving it alone can be beneficial for wild birds.
For example, some species:
- Use nests as roosts outside the breeding season
- May reuse their nest the following year
- Reuse the nests of other birds - for example, buzzards take over disused crows' nests.
Clearing out nest boxes
Stop birds nesting on your building
If you're having problems with birds nesting on buildings, there are some actions you can take to try and discourage birds from nesting there. Remember, though, that nests are protected while they're being built or in use, so you should take these actions well before the nesting season to make sure that you're not disturbing active nests - ideally, during winter.
Bird netting and meshes
Using the correct size and tension of mesh will help to reduce the risk of birds getting caught in the netting. As with anti-perching devices, netting should be maintained and inspected regularly and installed by a professional.
Simple wire-frame structures can be placed around chimney pots. This will stop birds from settling and make sure they can't fold their wings when they land.
Read more about wild birds and netting.
Clear out potential nesting material from your roof
Accidentally dislodging a nest while gardening
There may be eggs that have been damaged too but parent birds will usually prepare a new nest for a new clutch of eggs.
If you dislodge a nest containing young, find out how to safely renest baby birds.