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Bird licensing - licences for survey, science, research, ringing and marking and conservation

Bird surveys

Surveying for birds is a great way to get out and about into the countryside and there are a number of national schemes like the bird atlas external site  that are looking for people to help monitor our birds.

Most bird surveys do not need a licence, but if a survey could involve disturbance to breeding Schedule 1  PDF document  species, or if it might require interfering with nests or nest contents or any other offence in relation to wild birds, then a licence would be required.

Scottish Natural Heritage is responsible for issuing survey licences for Schedule 1  PDF document   bird species.  Licences are only granted to experienced people.  We issue two different types of schedule 1 survey licences - bird survey or bird monitoring licences.  Bird survey licences are issued to consultants surveying for development projects such as wind farm surveys - these cover for all schedule 1 birds but for the specific locations to be monitored.  Bird monitoring licences are for all other survey projects or long-term monitoring.  These licences generally cover specified species at specific locations.

Application form for a bird survey or monitoring licence  Word document

Barn owl monitoring

If you are required to carry out barn owl monitoring which includes the checking of nest boxes or surveying building for developments, then you will require a barn owl disturbance licence.

If you wish to apply for a licence please email licensing@snh.gov.uk with:

  • your name, address and telephone number;
  • brief details of what you want to do;
  • a completed reference form  Word document   (if this is the first time you have applied for a licence for this activity we will require a reference from someone that is familiar with your work in this area and who can vouch for your competence in carrying out this type of work) or a copy of your Barn Owl Trust Barn Owl Ecology, Surveys and Signs course completion certificate.

Science, research and education

If you are planning any scientific or research work that could otherwise result in an offence in relation to wild birds, you should apply for a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage.

If you wish to apply for a licence for scientific or research work please email licensing@snh.gov.uk with:

  • your name, address and telephone number;
  • full details of your project/proposal including what you want to do, who will be doing it, and where and when you want to do it;
  • completed reference form  Word document (if this is the first time you have applied for a licence for this activity we will require two references from people who are familiar with your work in this area and who can vouch for your competence in carrying out this type of work).

Raptor Study Groups

All applications for Raptor Study Group licences (new, renewals and amendments) must come from the relevant Raptor Study Group Chairperson.  Please contact your local Raptor Study Group external site   if you require a licence to monitor raptors on behalf of your local group.

Bird ringing and marking

Catching and ringing wild birds requires a great deal of skill and experience in order to minimise the risk of injury and stress to the birds being caught.

The British Trust for Ornithology external site , under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage, operate a system of training and issue of permits to allow competent people to catch and ring wild birds in Scotland.  If a person wishes to ring any wild bird they should contact British Trust for Ornithology external site or see How to get a ringing permit/licence external site .

The BTO also grants permits for catching wild birds using unconventional methods and to allow other tags or marks (such as satellite tags) to wild birds.

BTO Nest Recording Scheme

Registered participants in the British Trust for Ornithology external site s Nest Record Scheme external site  are permitted to briefly examine the nest contents of wild birds including Schedule 1 species.    This is allowed by a licence that Scottish Natural Heritage issues to the Trust.

If a person wishes to participate in the BTO's Nest record Scheme they should contact British Trust for Ornithology external site .

Licence renewals or amendments

It is your responsibility to remember to renew your licence. It will not automatically be renewed each year. Therefore, if you hold a licence which you wish to renew and have submitted a return for this licence, or you wish to amend your licence you can:

  • telephone 01463 725364 (please make sure you have your licence number to hand); or
  • email licensing@snh.gov.uk putting your licence number in the subject.

Licence returns

It is a condition of every licence that a return be submitted.

Bird survey or monitoring licences - please use our bird survey return form  Excel spreadsheet   and email this to licensing@snh.gov.uk clearly stating your name and licence number in the subject.

Bird science and research projects - please refer to your licence for the relevant return information required and send to licensing@snh.gov.uk clearly stating your name and licence number in the subject.

Raptor study group licences - please submit your licence return either directly to the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Officer or to licensing@snh.gov.uk.  Remember to check your licence for details of what information is required to be submitted.

BTO ringing and marking or nest recorder's scheme licences - please submit this directly to the BTO.

For further information or advice please email licensing@snh.gov.uk or telephone 01463 725364.



Last updated on Friday 20th January 2017 at 13:30 PM. Click here to comment on this page