Registration of captive birds of prey

Registration ensures extra protection for Schedule 4 birds, given their vulnerability to being taken from the wild illegally.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) requires captive bred Schedule 4 birds to be registered. Registration enables enforcement authorities to check the legality of any such birds of prey kept in captivity.

Schedule 4 birds:

  • honey buzzard
  • golden eagle
  • white-tailed eagle
  • peregrine
  • goshawk
  • marsh harrier
  • Montagu’s harrier
  • merlin
  • osprey

Registration requirements

The bird to be registered must be either:

  • ringed with a uniquely numbered, closed ring
  • microchipped

Alternatively, you must have a licence to hold the bird unringed. General Licence 07/2023 gives you up to 20 days to get hatchlings ringed and registered. If you can’t meet this deadline, you should apply to us for a licence to hold the chicks unringed.

To apply, email [email protected] with:

  • your name and address
  • details of the hatchlings – species and number of chicks

Registration process

Wild, disabled or imported Schedule 4 birds must be registered under the 1981 Act.

You must contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to register a Schedule 4 bird as soon as possible after taking possession of the bird. You must also register with APHA any Schedule 4 birds that you have bred.

Find out how to register a captive bird of prey on the GOV.UK website.

To use any Schedule 4 bird commercially, you must also apply for a CITES permit.

Rehabilitation of wild Schedule 4 birds

Under General Licence 05/2023, disabled, wild-bred Schedule 4 birds may be kept for up to 15 days without the need to register them.

Any bird that must be kept for longer should be registered with APHA, usually under an unringed licence. Individuals or wildlife centres handling such a bird must contact APHA to register it and to apply for an unringed licence. APHA will issue the registration document and licence direct to you on behalf of NatureScot.

Qualified vets can keep a disabled, wild-bred Schedule 4 bird for up to six weeks under General Licence 06/2023 before they must register the bird.

If it becomes clear that a registered, disabled Schedule 4 bird won’t recover from its injuries, you must microchip the bird and register it with APHA under the microchip number.

Find out more

Data Protection notice


If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team

01463 725364

[email protected]

Last updated: