Starling murmurations have been seen above the building and the birds have been seen roosting in the ivy on the walls – what’s being done to protect them?
Communal winter starling roosts are most noticeable in late autumn and winter when the resident population is augmented by large numbers of birds from continental Europe. By the end of February/beginning of March, the winter roost is abandoned as the European birds begin their return journey to their home breeding grounds and resident birds disperse to local breeding areas.
Starlings are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take a starling, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. Starlings are also a Priority Species (Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC)), which means that public bodies need to have regard to biodiversity conservation when carrying out their functions.
The owner is conscious of the presence of roosting starlings in the ivy which has grown on the side of the building in the last few years. The owner of the building is concerned of the potential damage to the building structure and ongoing maintenance costs of retaining the ivy, so is preparing to remove it prior to the 2023 bird nesting season.
A winter roost is different to a nest, however, if this winter roost must be moved on (as the ivy has to be removed as part of the redevelopment work) then it should be undertaken in an appropriate manner.
The owner has sought their own specialist advice about appropriate mitigation and this this includes timing the work to ensure that no birds are killed, injured or taken The birds are likely to disperse naturally from the beginning of February to the end of March and are likely to find alternative winter roosting sites, particularly as they have only recently occupied the site in the last few years.
To enhance the site the owner proposes to install starling nest boxes on the building on the elevation where the ivy has grown. This will provide some potential nesting and roosting opportunities for Starlings on the building for future years.