The law

Most birds, nests and eggs are protected under law.

Some of these laws are provincial and some are federal. Depending on the type of bird, different rules apply.

In some cases, you need approval from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry before you can remove or disturb a wild bird’s nest or eggs in a nest.

This includes:

  • nests that birds are using (with or without eggs in them)
  • nests of certain species that appear to have been abandoned or look out of use

In some cases, you may need other approvals (e.g., from the federal government in the case of migratory birds).

Source law

This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:

  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
  • Ontario Regulation 665/98 (hunting)
  • Endangered Species Act, 2007, O.Reg.242/08

Migratory birds

Certain rules apply to migratory birds, which are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act (a federal law).

You should contact Environment Canada for more information about the rules covering migratory birds.

Species at risk

Ontario’s Endangered Species Act also protects the nests and eggs of birds that are listed as endangered and threatened.

You need special permission to remove or disturb the nest of a threatened or endangered bird species. These species are listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List.

Please contact your local Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry District Office for more information.

No approval required

You do not need approval under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, if you are:

  • carrying out a renewable energy project under the Environmental Protection Act
  • conducting maintenance on an electricity transmission or distribution line, or on a telecommunications line or broadcast tower where there is a threat to the function of the line or tower
  • carrying out forest operations under an approved forest management plan
  • damaging or removing the nests or eggs of:
    • American crow
    • brown-headed cowbird
    • common grackle
    • house sparrow
    • red-winged blackbird
    • European starling


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