EcoEireann > What We Do > Ornithology



The Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) and Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) provide the framework for the protection of Europe’s wildlife and are transposed through regulations, most recently the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. These regulations are mainly implemented in Ireland through the Wildlife Act 1976 and Wildlife Act 2000 (amendment). Fulfilling our obligations under these Directives is vital to protect our biodiversity, ecosystems and the services they provide us, as well as to ensure compliance with the law.

There are Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in Ireland that are designated specifically to safeguard birds. These sites receive strict protection and form part of a wider network of sites across the European Union. SPAs require detailed consideration in any ecological assessment. The legislation relating to SPAs and constituent qualifying species is The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

When do I need to get in touch?

Birds utilise a variety of habitats to forage and for structures, including those which are man-made, to roost and breed. The potential of a site to support birds is related to these features.

The potential for a site to support important or notable populations of birds, or Annex 1 species, is usually identified during a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal. If a site has potential, then a survey or range of surveys may be required to assess its ornithological value.

In order to prevent delays to your project’s schedule, it is important to identify the need for bird surveys as early as possible, given the nature of bird ecology and biology and best-practice guidelines.

Typically, the breeding bird season runs from March to the end of August. Breeding bird surveys must be completed within this timeframe.

Birds breed, forage and roost in a variety of habitats and structures, a sites potential to support birds is down to the presence of these habitats on a given site. Many birds are migratory and therefore can breed at different periods of the year. The potential for a site to support important or notable populations of birds is usually identified within a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal. If the site includes habitats which support bird species then it is likely that a survey, or even a range of bird surveys, will be required.

To prevent delays in your project, it is important to get in touch as early as possible. The presence of important or notable populations of birds or can be highly seasonal, with different habitats being important at different times in the year.

How can EcoÉireann help me?

We undertake all types of bird surveys, licencing and mitigation. By applying best-practice guidelines along with our in-depth knowledge of bird ecology and habitat requirements, we are able to present survey results in detailed, professional reports to inform and support your project’s planning application or other consenting process.

Types of bird survey EcoÉireann undertakes include:

• Breeding Bird Survey: often required as part of any ecological appraisal, these are typically spread across the breeding season, ideally between April and July. At least one early-season visit and one late-season visit must be completed.

• Breeding Bird Checking Survey: applied when it is necessary to remove potential nesting habitat within the breeding season. The breeding bird check involves a detailed check of vegetation or structures to ensure that no active nests are present. If found to have no active nests, works must commence within 5 days, or additional surveys must be undertaken.

• Wintering Bird Survey: required at locations with habitats capable of supporting aggregations of wintering species including coastal areas, wetlands or areas in close proximity to sites designated for wintering or migratory birds.

• Vantage Point (VP) Surveys: most commonly used where there is a requirement to observe how birds are using a site or the air space above it. Wind energy developments are a key example of the sort of project that may require this type of survey.

• Barn Owl Surveys: required when a development is likely to impact a building or buildings that are suitable for breeding Barn Owls. These surveys must be carried out under licence.

• Species Specific Surveys: these surveys are required where Annex 1 or SPA qualifying species are thought to be present.

Whatever the requirements of your project, EcoÉireann can tailor individual or suites of bird surveys to fulfil any requirements of the planning or regulatory process.  Please get in touch if you are seeking advice in regards to ornithological constraints within your development.