April, 2013

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Bugs, Birds and Beasts in the East

All of our up to date fun and frolics in the East from office antics to great conservation stories and those magical connections with nature.
  • The legal status of corvids in the UK

    Crows, jackdaws and rooks are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. This makes it illegal to intentionally take, injure or kill them, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. However, the law recognises that in some circumstances control may be necessary. The UK Government issues annually a general licence (for which it is not necessary to apply individually) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which allows certain corvids to be killed or taken by ‘authorised persons’, using permitted methods, for the purposes of:


    • preventing serious damage to agricultural crops or livestock

    • preserving public health/air safety

    • conserving wild birds.


    The killing can only be done under these specific conditions. An ‘authorised person’ is a landowner or occupier, or someone acting with the landowner’s or occupier’s permission.

    Legal control methods involve trapping or shooting. Larsen traps, a type of cage trap, are designed to catch birds alive and unharmed, and it can be baited with food, or with a live decoy crow, jackdaw or rook (providing this decoy is provided with adequate food and water). If you suspect that a Larsen trap has been set illegally to catch birds of prey, please report this

    to the police Wildlife Crime Officer. Gun laws state that control by shooting can only be done well away from houses and public roads.


    The RSPB is not opposed to legal, site-specific control, nor to the legal use of Larsen traps. The RSPB opposes illegal corvid control, such as poisoning, which has a high risk of accidentally poisoning other birds, including rare birds of prey. Many people wish to control crows and jackdaws in gardens, thinking that they are a threat to small garden birds. Considering that there is no scientific evidence that either species would pose a conservation problem to any species of garden bird, the RSPB believes that the use of general licence in

    this context is at best debateable. Where rooks choose to nest in suburban areas or in trees in gardens, people are often intolerant of their presence either because of the noise, or because they have parked a car underneath the nesting trees and it has received the inevitable scattering of droppings.


    These situations constitute a nuisance, which is not a legal reason to kill any bird or destroy its active nest. Sometimes a large quantity of droppings may be viewed as a health hazard. It is advisable to obtain the opinion of a public health officer before any action is taken to ensure that the action is lawful. In those situations where there is a genuine problem,

    deterrents that prevent the birds from settling to breed in the first place are far preferable to destroying nests. It must be remembered that if challenged, anyone killing birds may have to prove to a court of law that they had acted lawfully. 


    This information is from our Crows, jackdaws & rooks Leaflet:

  • The migrant birds illegally shot in Malta

    Blog by Tara Proud, RSPB Species Recovery Officer

    Each spring thousands of migrant birds cross Malta on their way to breeding grounds in Europe, and some of them even choose the UK as their summer home. In Malta, hunting birds is a cultural tradition, and although there are laws in place to govern when shooting can be carried out, a huge amount of protected birds are illegally killed.

    Our partners at BirdLife Malta are campaigning and working on the ground to stop illegal hunters who flout the rules and continue to kill protected birds.

    One of the most common birds targeted by hunters is the turtle dove, a species on the verge of extinction in the UK and with a group of conservation bodies, including the RSPB, pulling out all the stops to save it.  Find out more about
    Operation Turtle Dove here.

    For more on this story, have a look at
    this article on BBC Nature to see some images from Malta, but be warned, some of them are quite graphic and pretty heartbreaking too.

     Sadly, Malta is just one of many countries across the Europe where species such as turtle doves are sought after quarry species for hunters, other include Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, and Portugal.

  • Thank goodness for peregrines

    Blogger: Kerry Davis, Lincoln Peregrines Project Manager

    I am not a natural birder.  My favourite cry is “what’s that?” – I have progressed from sparrow, blackbird to smew and little egret  in the 9 months since I joined the RSPB.   

    With this in mind, I owe a thank you to the Lincoln local group since they have answered my naive questions on the mating rituals, gestation and fledging of peregrines in terms I can understand.  Even my “can’t you make them behave!” when they nested on a site away from our camera was greeted with a patience response of “peregrines will do what peregrines will do...”

    I owe an even bigger  thank you to Lincoln Camera Exchange for saving me from a grey moment when we discovered that our television had been damaged over the winter and they stepped in with the loan of a television for the length of the project so that you can now view a live feed of the peregrines in the tower.

    The project starts today, Saturday 20 April, the peregrines are nested on the south west corner of the tower, we have scopes and binoculars poised, a television to view them on, lets hope for sunshine and peregrine chicks soon.

    Photo by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)