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British Bird Council

News Page

Here we shall print general news on the hobby


Please do not return unused rings to the office.

Rings not required for future use should be decommissioned or destroyed by crushing or incineration.

Consultation On Captive Birds


The consultation summary of responses and Government response has been published as of 23rd March.   Please take time to review



DEFRA Consultation News Update


Joint consultation between Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government concerning the trade in captive bred birds

This consultation concerns commonly kept smaller birds listed on Part 1 Schedule 3 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and does not apply to game birds. 

Schedule 3 birds can be sold if they meet certain requirements e.g. are ringed. Some birds not listed on Schedule 3 can be sold by people relying on a general licence, issued by the relevant national licensing authority, if certain conditions are met.

For other birds sale is only allowed by an individual licence issued by the relevant national licensing authority.

This may happen if a bird has been bought in another EU Member State for onward sale in the UK and does not meet the requirements of the regulations for that species.  

Concerns have been raised that the current regulation of trade in these captive-bred birds needs reform, as it may restrict trade in captive-bred birds imported into the UK from other European Member States. 

This consultation provides three options which could resolve these concerns. It also asks for information on a number of other issues relating to trade in captive bred birds which will be used to inform future policy.

The consultation will run from 28 January 2015 to the 24 March 2015


The consultation (including details on how to respond) can be found here:  Consulation Document


Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Natural England Press Release on Consultation


Natural England have made a press release on the current Consultation / Review of the General Licences.


The Bird Council Committee is reviewing these potential changes & formulating its reply.

The released documents can be found below

Anyone who also wishes to comment should please contact our office by e mail  please;

E mail: 

General Licence Press Release
General Licence Review Summary




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The RSPCA Trustees have, under pressure from various sources, commissioned an independent review of the charity's prosecution activities.


This reviewer is requesting submissions from any persons concerned with the charity's policy.



This is the British Bird Council submission on behalf of our members:



Dear Sirs 


I am writing on behalf of members of The British Bird Council (BBC). The council was formed in 1972 to represent those individuals and affiliated societies whose members pursue the legitimate hobby of keeping,
breeding and exhibiting captive bred British and European native bird species.


As an organisation we do not condone any illegal activities associated with aviculture particularly with regard to the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Our objectives have always been to educate in the pursuit of aviculture.


In the past we had regular contact with the RSPCA, however since the time when the RSPCA announced they were totally opposed to the captive keeping and breeding of British birds, and they become increasingly concerned with bringing private prosecutions against aviculturists, the relationship has been strained and almost non-existent. 


The BBC along with the International Ornithological Association (IOA) issue closed metal rings to aviculturists which are fitted to the legs of recently hatched birds to show they have been bred in captivity.
This is in accordance with the legislation contained in the 1981 Act and agreed with DEFRA. Each ring is individually marked and records are kept as to who the rings were issued together with their address, this information is kept within our office on computer hardware.


In circumstances where the Police are investigating wildlife crime they contact the BBC to obtain information related to specific ring numbers from birds they have examined or seized. Upon a written request the BBC
have always fully cooperated and passed this information over.


For some years now it is apparent that the Police are acting on information supplied by the RSPCA who persuade the Police to obtain warrants to enter premises of aviculturists who they (RSPCA) suspect of committing wildlife crimes, the RSPCA accompany the Police during these raids. Any information that the Police obtain from the BBC regarding ring numbers, names and addresses are immediately shared with the RSPCA who then make their own further investigations, acting like police when they visit properties, they even
at times issue cautions although these of course have no legal standing but nonetheless intimidate those aviculturists who are unaware that the RSPCA have no legal standing whatsoever.


I cannot over emphasise this last point which is that employees of the RSPCA do not have any special legal powers, they are no different to the average man in the street i.e. merely members of the public.
They dress in uniforms similar to Police and call themselves Inspector or Chief Inspector but they are, all the same, just an ordinary member of the public.


I cannot think of any other circumstance in which a member of the public i.e. RSPCA employee, who would be given confidential and privileged information and accompany the Police on dawn raids thereby enabling them to
pursue private prosecutions and to further their own political agenda, this is outrageous.


On these raids the number of personnel including employees of the RSPCA is at times unbelievable and cannot be justified for this level of wildlife crime. In financial terms the expenditure on this charity is disproportionate and unjustified for an organisation set up for the interests of animal protection and goes beyond the remit of its founding principles and the interests of its donors in pursuit of its top personnel’s own political agenda,
which in the case of the BBC is to stop the legitimate keeping of British birds in captivity for its own ideology even though there is no cruelty involved.


Due to its financial position the RSPCA is able to throw disproportionate resources into intimidating and persecuting law abiding citizens who, because of a quirk in natural justice, have the reverse burden of proof put upon them i.e. the birdkeeper has to prove that the birds are legally in captivity and not as it should be that the prosecution has to prove that the birds are illegally in captivity and because of the financial burdens placed on
defending such actions, some members of the BBC and IOA simply plead guilty as they cannot afford to challenge the resources of the RSPCA in court.


In précis the RSPCA are pursuing, for their own political agenda, the persecution of law abiding aviculturists, gaining confidential information from the Police that would not be available to any other organisation or member of the public, using their considerable financial backing to pursue private prosecutions and abusing their status as a charity. They have somehow gained influence in the corridors of powers, probably because of the
limited resources of the Police in pursuing such low priority crime which they are quite happy to see the RSPCA pursuing as it saves their resources for other crime. They have stepped over the threshold with regards to their charitable status and if they wish to continue in this vain then they should set out their agenda clearly to their donors, be stripped of their charitable status and also be treated as any other member of the public by the Police and other government bodies.





Chris Boyce


Chairman British Bird Council




Anyone wishing to make their own submission to this review can do so by following this link:






Problems ringing northern birds

General opinion, and advice given by B Partridge, particularly in regard to Northern birds was that if members had difficulty in ringing any bird they should use the next size up, keep a full record of why and when etc but that if they wanted to sell it they would need an exemption licence from Natural E who would need the ring number etc. on application form. WML-A20   


Click Link



Licence to sell unrung birds


It would appear that Natural England have had a change of direction, although in the past we were informed
that unrung Birds ( Birds not rung with an official closed ring) could not be sold under licence but could be passed on only as a gift.


Recently Natural England Granted a Licence WLF 026837 for an unrung bird to be sold namely a colour variant
Northern Bullfinch, Pyrrhula Pyrrhula without documentary evidence of captive breeding.


It would appear that providing documentary evidence of captive breeding is supplied on the application form
along with other necessary detail, a licence can also be granted for a normal coloured unrung bird.



A joint announcement by the B.B.C., I.O.A. and N.C.A. 


According to a statement by Natural England on their website dated May 2011. Due to taxonomic review by
British Ornithological Union in 2001, the Lesser Redpoll formally termed (Carduelis flammea caberet) has in effect by default been removed from Schedule 3. Part 1. where Redpoll is listed as Carduelis flammea, which covered all Redpolls with the exception of species Carduelis hornemanni “Arctic Redpoll”.


Discussions with D.E.F.R.A. and N.E. to resolve the issue have to date not reached a satisfactory conclusion.


With the show and sale season fast approaching and after some discussion with the B.O.U. in regards to
ancestry of captive bred stocks of Redpoll, the B.B.C., I.O.A. and N.C.A. issue the following advice to keepers, breeders, sellers, exhibitors and show promoters.


Due to their mixed race ancestry captive bred Redpolls shall for the present be referred to as Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea).


The term Lesser to be deleted from nomenclature.  Small captive bred version to be referred to as Common
Redpoll, large version as Mealy Redpoll.


Should you believe you have any captive bred pure caberet (which is highly unlikely) or Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni) that you wish to sell or show you will need to abide by regulations of


GL18 and GL14. Please see Natural England Website at:


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