Protected Species Survey

Bird survey

Bird survey

Birds within the U.K. have been subject to an ever-increasing habitat loss and degradation. Intensifying land management practices and habitat loss through the building of residential areas has been the main factors influencing bird population decline within recent years.

As such, the need for ecological bird surveys on land proposed for development is essential, with most local planning authorities requiring the surveys as standard, prior to granting planning permission.

Protecting Species of Wild Birds

All wild birds native to the UK (including migratory species) are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Nesting and breeding birds are also protected under the Act which makes it an offence to recklessly kill, injure or take any wild birds, nests or eggs. Several birds, such as barn owls, are schedule 1 listed species, which are given further legal protection.

UK Bird Surveys by The Ecology Partnership

The Ecology Partnership conducts different types of bird surveys, depending on the likely species present and the type of habitats on site. These include:

Breeding bird survey

This survey is conducted using the standard Common Bird Census methodology developed by the British Trust for Ornithology (Gilbert et al. 1998). This method uses registration mapping which, with appropriate survey input, can allow for the estimation of breeding territory numbers and the distribution of territories for each species.

At least three surveys are carried out at different times of the year to take into account the breeding seasons for a range of species. For example, resident species establish territories as early as March whilst some migrant species do not arrive to start breeding until May.

The British Trust for Ornithology recommends one early season visit between mid-April and mid-May and one late season visit between mid-May and late-June, with at least four weeks between survey dates.

Farmland bird survey

This survey is aimed specifically at assessing the species which could be using farmland habitats, as these are often specialists. The RSPB’s UK Farmland Bird Indicator lists 19 species which are considered to be most at risk from development due to their dependence on farmland and their inability to thrive in other habitats.

The methodology is similar to the one used for the Breeding Bird Survey, with at least three surveys recommended at different times of the year to take into account both breeding and over-wintering activity.

Wintering bird survey


Our wintering bird survey is aimed at identifying species, such as the fieldfare and redwing (Red List), which only visit the UK during the autumn and winter period.

Overwintering birds are important to identify as these may suffer the greatest impacts from loss of habitat as a result of development. This is because winter food sources can be scarce and part of this survey is identifying the location of such food sources on a site.

We usually recommend four surveys a month from November – February. This methodology is similar to the Breeding Bird Survey, where a transect is walked and species are mapped.

Bird Survey Season

bird survey season calendar, barn owl survey season - barn owl survey calendar

View our complete Survey Calendar for suitable times for your survey to be conducted.

Contact Us

Email us, please call us on 01372 364 133 to discuss your survey requirements, or use our enquiry form below.

For more protected species survey services click here.