Directive 2009/147 - Conservation of wild birds (Codified version)


Summary of Legislation

Conservation of wild birds


Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds


  • It seeks to conserve all wild birds in the EU by setting out rules for their protection, conservation, management and control.
  • It covers birds, their eggs, nests and habitats.
  • It codifies legislation originally adopted in 1979 (Directive 79/409/EEC).
  • Directive 2009/147/EC was amended in 2019 by Regulation (EU) 2019/1010 which aligns and streamlines reporting obligations in the field of environmental law.


Measures for endangered species

EU countries must take action to maintain or restore the populations of bird species to a level which is in line with ecological, scientific and cultural requirements, while taking into account economic and recreational needs.

Measures for all bird species

Measures must be set in place to preserve, maintain or re-establish a sufficient diversity and area of habitats* for all bird species.

These measures mainly involve:

  • the creation of protected areas;
  • the upkeep and management of habitats inside and outside the protected areas; and
  • the re-establishment of destroyed biotopes*, and the creation of new ones.

Special measures

  • Certain species, listed in Annex I, as well as regularly occurring migratory species, not listed in Annex I, are subject to special measures concerning their habitat to ensure survival and reproduction in their area of distribution.
  • EU countries must classify the most suitable territories in number and size as special protection areas (SPAs) for the conservation of these species in areas of sea and land where the directive applies. Particular attention is paid to wetlands. The SPAs form part of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites, together with the Special Areas of Conservation designated under the Habitats Directive.
  • EU countries are required to take the appropriate steps to avoid:
    • the deterioration of the habitats of the species; and
    • disturbance of the species for which the SPAs have been classified, where such disturbance could significantly affect the objectives of the directive.
  • EU countries are required to agree to plans or projects only after if they are sure that they will not adversely affect the SPAs concerned, based on an appropriate assessment of any implications for the sites’ conservation objectives.

General protection measures

  • This directive also puts in place general protection for all species of wild birds in the EU. In particular the following are banned:
    • deliberate destruction or capture of wild birds;
    • deliberate damage to nests and eggs;
    • taking or keeping eggs;
    • deliberate disturbance which puts conservation at risk; and
    • keeping birds, the hunting of which is banned;
  • exceptions to the above rules are possible under certain conditions.

Hunting of birds

  • Some species, whose numbers allow, listed in Annex II, may be hunted, if certain principles are observed:
    • the number of birds taken must not threaten satisfactory population levels and wise use is ensured;
    • species must not be hunted during periods of breeding or rearing;
    • migratory species must not be hunted during their return to breeding grounds; and
    • large-scale or non-selective killing methods are prohibited;
  • exceptions to the above rules are possible under certain conditions.


EU countries must promote research for the purposes of the management, protection and wise exploitation (e.g., for establishing national lists of species in danger of extinction) of wild birds in Europe


  • Regulation (EU) 2019/1010, which has applied since 26 June 2019, requires EU countries to submit a report to the European Commission every 6 years on the measures they have taken to implement Directive 2009/147/EC, and their main impacts.
  • That report must be made accessible to the public and include, in particular:
    • information concerning the status and trends of wild bird species protected by this directive;
    • the threats and pressures on them;
    • the conservation measures taken for them; and
    • the contribution of the network of SPAs to the objectives of the directive.
  • The Commission sets out the format of the report by implementing acts.
  • Every 6 years, the Commission, assisted by the European Environment Agency, prepares and publishes a composite report based on the information it has received from the EU countries.


It has applied since 15 February 2010.Directive 2009/147/EC codified and replaced Directive 79/409/EEC and its subsequent amendments.


For more information, see:


Habitat: a natural area or type of environment where a particular kind of animal or plant normally lives.

Biotope: an area of uniform environmental conditions providing a living space for a specific mix of animals and plants.


Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds (codified version) (OJ L 20, 26.1.2010, pp. 7-25)

Successive amendments to Directive 2009/147/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) 2019/1010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the alignment of reporting obligations in the field of legislation related to the environment, and amending Regulations (EC) No 166/2006 and (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directives 2002/49/EC, 2004/35/EC, 2007/2/EC, 2009/147/EC and 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulations (EC) No 338/97 and (EC) No 2173/2005, and Council Directive 86/278/EEC (OJ L 170, 25.6.2019, pp. 115-127)

last update 28.05.2020

This summary has been adopted from EUR-Lex.


Legislative text

Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds (Codified version)