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Schedule 4 birds in Scotland

Registering captive bred Schedule 4 birds

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) requires captive bred Schedule 4 birds to be registered.

Schedule 4 birds are:

  • honey buzzard
  • golden eagle
  • white-tailed eagle
  • peregrine
  • goshawk
  • marsh harrier
  • montagu harrier
  • merlin
  • osprey

Registration was introduced to give these species extra protection given their vulnerability to illegal taking from the wild.  Registration enables enforcement authorities to check the legality of Schedule 4 birds kept in captivity.

Registration process

To register a bird, the bird must be either:

  •  ringed with a uniquely numbered, closed ring;
  •  microchipped;
  •  the keeper must hold a licence to hold the bird unringed.

Captive bred peregrines and merlins which are going to be used commercially may be registered via an Article 10 certificate issued by the UK CITES Management Authority external site .  However, wild disabled or imported peregrines or merlins must be registered under the 1981 Act.

In Scotland, registration is undertaken by the Wildlife Licensing & Registration Service run by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) on behalf of Scottish Natural Heritage. 

Once in possession of a Schedule 4 bird, Scottish keepers must contact Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to register their birds as soon as possible.

You must register any Schedule 4 birds you breed with the APHA.   Our General Licence 08/2017  PDF document  gives you up to 20 days to get hatchlings ringed and registered. If you can't meet this deadline you will need a licence from us to hold the chicks unringed, in which case send your name and address, together with details of the hatchlings (species & number of chicks) to licensing@snh.gov.uk.

Once ringed, Scottish keepers should complete and return a registration form available from APHA.  A registration document will then be issued for each bird and sent directly to the keeper.

Rehabilitation of wild Schedule 4 birds

Sometimes, disabled Schedule 4 birds are found and require short-term rehabilitation before their release back into the wild.  Under General Licence 06/2017  PDF document  disabled wild-bred Schedule 4 birds may be kept for up to 15 days without the need to register them.  If the bird needs to be kept for longer the keeper must register it, normally under an unringed licence.  Individuals or wildlife centres handling these birds must contact APHA to register them and to apply for an unringed licence.  APHA will issue the registration document and an unringed licence on SNH's behalf.  APHA will send all paperwork directly to the Scottish keeper. Please note that qualified vets can keep a disabled wild-bred Schedule 4 bird for up to six weeks before they need to register a bird under General Licence 07/2017  PDF document .

If it becomes apparent that a registered, disabled Schedule 4 bird will not recover from its injuries, the keeper must mark (microchip) the bird and register it under that number with APHA.

Keepers are reminded that commercial use of any Schedule 4 bird requires an Article 10 certificate to comply with CITES legislation.

Note: Unringed licences may be issued in circumstances other than those involving disabled birds (e.g. for welfare reasons).  Keepers should contact APHA for advice in such cases.

Ensuring compliance with the legislation

Ensuring the legislation is adhered to requires specialist staff. APHA staff support divisional Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers in their work to ensure compliance with the law surrounding captive bred Schedule 4 species across the whole of Great Britain.