Can nests be removed?
As a rule, no. Most birds are fully protected and you must allow the young to leave their nest before taking any action to block entrance holes or to remove nests. A general licence, issued by the Natural England, allows ‘authorised persons’ to kill or take roof nesting feral pigeons in Britain, or house sparrows, starlings and feral pigeons in Northern Ireland, and to destroy their nests. However, this can only be done if it can be shown unequivocally that this action is going to be necessary for the purpose of preserving public health. Birds being perceived to be a nuisance are not affecting public health, and will therefore not be covered by this exception. One should always avoid roofing work if it is known that birds are nesting there. If a nest is being discovered or destroyed by accident during renovation work, ideally the work should be stopped until the birds have fledged in their own time. If this happens and the roof cannot be left until the young have fledged, one could try to make an artificial nest box for starlings or sparrows and monitor thoroughly to ensure that the parents attend undisturbed their parental duties.