Schedule 1 species of birds – Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

I have worked on Black Redstart projects in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, the Midlands (including Birmingham) and London. I have worked on large scale demolition projects where planning has require Black Redstart mitigation. I can provide the require reports/survey data and risk assessments regarding working methods necessary to safeguard protected species and ensure legal compliance.

Black redstart in the UK have some very specific breeding territory and nest site requirements. Their preference is often for derelict buildings that are located in built-up urban areas within older sections of towns and cities. Such areas may contain commercial, office and industrial buildings, with a high construction density. Usually these districts will be located within the close proximity of ‘green’ areas such as formal parkland, cemeteries, or derelict waste ground where they may be emergent vegetation. Water courses, and particularly town canals, may also feature within such areas – historically industrial buildings have often been sited alongside waterways.

Black Redstart Habitat
Black Redstart breeding site

Male birds will choose a high vantage point such as a chimney, tower or high building from which to sing from. Tall buildings with a high ledge or apex may also be selected.

Black redstarts will select breeding territories and nest sites (within such territories) that match specific requirements. They will seek access to derelict or disused buildings via any suitable entrance, such as open/broken doors and windows, or resultant gaps from structural damage due to collapse or fallen brickwork. The nest itself will be very exactly sited, which may result in it being located several metres from the point of entrance inside of the building. Birds will seek a ledge on which to build a nest within close proximity of some kind of ceiling or canopy structure that will provide the nest with a roof directly over it. Because black redstarts have such exacting requirements and the correct internal structure of a building is so important, it can be that buildings that outwardly appear to be suitable, will be rejected by the birds.

As a consequence, in some cases, birds may choose to nest in occupied buildings such as operational warehouses and factories. Such sites need to provide a secluded place inside for nesting, together with an opening into the building that is permanently accessible.

Generally, this species will not nest in small holes or gaps within the external walls of a building, or within nest boxes, unless there are no other preferential options.

Black redstart in the UK have some very specific breeding territory and nest site requirements.

The black redstart is a rare breeder, passage migrant and occasional winter visitor to the UK.

Black redstart ecology

The UK population of breeding black redstarts is presently thought to fluctuate between 19 – 44 pairs, making it one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK. In view of this rarity black redstarts are regarded as birds of conservation concern in the UK, and they are included in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as worthy of special legal protection. The species is also listed as a Red Data Book species and is on Appendix II of the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats 1979.

Breeding birds occur mainly in urban areas including Greater London, Birmingham and the Black Country with a few pairs in Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Ipswich, and the odd pair at cliff sites and power stations along the south coast between Suffolk and Dorset.

Black redstarts are a passage migrant appearing in the UK from mid-March to the end of April, with peak arrival being between late March and mid-April. The average breeding date is between late April and the end of June. There can be two broods, with the juveniles fledging by mid-July. Birds occasionally overwinter but this is more likely in coastal sites.