All birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) whilst breeding. This legislation protects nests, eggs and unfledged young from damage, or destruction. Species listed under Schedule 1 of the WCA 1981 (as amended), have additional protection, which makes it an offence to disturb a bird while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.

EMEC Ecology offers a variety of bird survey types, as follows:

Nesting Bird Survey

Nesting bird surveys are conducted within the breeding season (March to September inclusive) to ensure that there are no active bird nests present on site prior to the commencement of works. A negative result would allow site contractors to proceed with works with no unlawful actions; however, if an active nest is present, works in the vicinity of the nest would be restricted until all young have fledged.

Breeding Bird Survey

This type of survey can be used to identify the species breeding on site as well as their abundance and distribution during the breeding season (March to June inclusively).

Wintering Bird Survey

Wintering bird surveys are conducted to determine the species composition and the numbers present at potentially important wintering sites. This allows an assessment of the importance of the site for wintering birds to be made.

Autumn Migratory / Vantage Point Survey

Fixed point vantage point observations allow an assessment of a site in relation to bird flight behaviour. This can be used to assess commuting and foraging behaviour as well as migratory routes. Such surveys are common for large-scale developments which have the potential to disrupt such routes.

Barn Owl Survey

Barn owls are a Sechedule-1 species and will often roost or nest in a building structure (such as an open-fronted barn) or tree. Where works are taking place on or in proximity to such structures or trees, a Barn Owl Survey should be conducted to ensure compliance with legislation and planning regulations.

The type of bird survey required will depend on the nature of the site and any planned works. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss which type of bird survey you require.


The timing of the survey will depend on the type of survey required.

  • A nesting bird survey is typically undertaken immediately prior to works commencing at a site between March and September inclusive.
  • A breeding Bird Survey must be undertaken during breeding season, which runs from March to June inclusively.
  • A wintering bird survey can be conducted from mid-October to Mid-March.
  • A vantage point survey can be conducted any time of year depending on the target bird species or specific behaviour i.e. migratory.
  • A barn owl survey can be conducted any time of year.

Suitable bird survey dates are also shown on our Survey Calendar.


The survey methodology will depend on the type of bird survey being conducted. To request a more detailed bird survey or barn owl survey information sheet, please email, specifying the information sheet required.

Following the Survey


We will provide a report detailing the results of our survey and any required mitigation as soon as possible following the survey, however; should you have a specific date for submission of a planning application we will do our utmost to accommodate this.

Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures will be dependent on the nature of any planned works, the species of birds present and how they are using the site. Our Land Management team are experienced in implementing a variety of mitigation measures, such as bird box installation.