"live" nest & eggs of Cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus. RSPB Cirl Bunting Project. Devon, England

Nest robbery

The taking of eggs or chicks has, historically, contributed to the decline of many bird species.

Nest robbery

Nest robbery takes two main forms:

  • The taking of eggs for egg collecting purposes.
  • The taking of eggs or nestlings for falconry or bird keeping purposes. 

The peregrine has been a traditionally targeted bird for nest robberies, prized both by egg collectors and illegal falconers.  

These figures are worrying since peregrines were effectively removed from Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Schedule 4 is the list of birds which, if held in captivity, must be ringed and registered with Defra. As a result of the changes to Schedule 4, since 1 October 2008 peregrines and merlins held in captivity have been considered to be 'registered' if an A10 certificate has been issued. This effectively means once those birds are sold, they  disappear and the government can not trace them – making the laundering of illegally taken wild birds much easier.

The use of DNA fingerprinting to determine family relationships of captive birds has been used in a number of successful prosecutions involving the laundering of wild taken birds of prey. It is hoped that these cases act as a deterrent to those intent on taking young birds of prey from the wild.

Ospreys were persecuted to extinction in the UK by 1916, but began to breed again in Scotland in 1954. The last few pairs of the original population were targeted relentlessly by egg collectors. Since the species has become re-established and following extensive protection, their numbers have increased. 

How you can help

Poisoned bird of prey

Have you seen a crime against a wild bird? Use this form to report a wildlife crime to us.