Wild birds and the law

The Isle of Man Wildlife Act 1990 (including 2004 amendments) is the primary legislation serving to protect the Island’s wildlife, including its wild birds.

The Act sets out schedules of species of animal and plant that are protected by Manx law from injury or disturbance. The Act also establishes the legal protection of Areas of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves.

General protection for birds
  • All birds and their nests are protected (cannot be killed, injured or taken), bar a few Schedule 2 species that can be shot in the open season.

Once a wild bird has begun to build a nest, that nest is protected; it is an offence to take or destroy the nest, eggs or young of any wild bird.

Special protection for birds
  • Special penalties are available for offences related to Schedule 1 species (listed below), for which there are additional offences of disturbing these birds and their dependent young at or near their nests.
Likely disturbance from works
  • Where activities come into conflict with nesting birds, you must seek advice from DEFA's biodiversity officers.

You may need a section 16 licence before proceeding with destructive or disturbing works.

Reporting suspected offences or concerns

If you suspect a wildlife crime has been/is being committed (e.g. Schedule 1 species disturbance, unlicensed bird killing) or are concerned about an activity you have witnessed, please report this immediately to:

  • The Wildlife Crime Unit - telephone 01624 812234; or
  • Dr Richard G. Selman, Senior Biodiversity Officer (Zoologist), DEFA - telephone 01624 685835, fax 01624 685851 or email Richard.Selman@gov.im.

For offences that might affect wildlife, but are not directly wildlife offences - such as off-road driving away from permitted tracks - please report these to the police (see Wildlife Crime Unit above).

Schedule 1 species

The following species in the Isle of Man are protected by special penalties:

  • Avocet
  • Bittern
  • Bullfinch
  • Bunting, Corn
  • Bunting, Reed
  • Buzzard
  • Buzzard, Honey
  • Buzzard, Rough-legged
  • Chough
  • Corncrake
  • Crake, Spotted
  • Crane, Common
  • Crossbills (all species)
  • Curlew
  • Dipper
  • Dove, Turtle
  • Eagle, Golden
  • Eagle, White-tailed
  • Egret, Little
  • Falcons (all species)
  • Flycatcher, Spotted
  • Gadwall
  • Garganey
  • Geese (all species)
  • Goshawk
  • Grebe, Little
  • Harriers (all species)
  • Heron, Purple
  • Kingfisher
  • Kite, Black
  • Kite, Red
  • Lapwing
  • Martin, Sand
  • Nightjar
  • Osprey
  • Ouzel, Ring
  • Owl (all species)
  • Petrel, Storm
  • Pintail
  • Pipit, Tree
  • Plover, Golden
  • Plover, Little Ringed
  • Plover, Ringed
  • Quail, Common
  • Redstart, Black
  • Redstart, Common
  • Sandpiper, Common
  • Scaup
  • Shag
  • Shearwater, Manx
  • Shelduck
  • Shoveler
  • Skylark
  • Snipe, Jack
  • Sparrow, House
  • Sparrow, Tree
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Spoonbill
  • Starling
  • Swan, Bewick's
  • Swan, Whooper
  • Swift
  • Tern (all species)
  • Thrush, Song
  • Tit, Bearded
  • Twite
  • Warbler, Grasshopper
  • Water Rail
  • Whinchat
  • Yellowhammer

For more information about wild bird and wildlife law in the Isle of Man, go to IOM Government's DEFA website.