Amendments to the Open Seasons Order for Wild Birds

Date Released: Wednesday, August 30, 2023

  • Amendments remove four species of wild birds from the list of species which can be hunted
  • Amendments follow extensive public consultation earlier this year, and are in line with an EU Directive protecting vulnerable wild birds
  • Amendments aim to ensure the sustainability of hunting along with the conservation of wild bird populations.

New amendments to the Open Seasons Order take effect from September 1st. The Open Seasons Order allows for the hunting of certain bird species in Ireland. It is administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and runs from September 1st until January 31st.

Amendments remove four species of birds from the Open Seasons Order: the Scaup, Goldeneye, Pochard and Pintail. These species have been removed due to a significant decline in their population numbers and the small size of their populations.

Amendments aim to protect wild bird populations and ensure the sustainability of hunting.

Since 2019, the EU Birds Directive requires all Member States, including Ireland, to ensure that the hunting of wild birds is sustainable. An NPWS working group on ‘Birds Directive Annex II Species on the Open Seasons Order’ was established to review the evidence following a commitment from Minister of State Malcolm Noonan in 2021. An external review and a public consultation process was conducted earlier this year.

In addition to stakeholder engagement and data collection, the NPWS continues to progress further activities that meet the obligations of the EU Birds Directive. These include ongoing monitoring and associated conservation measures to support wild birds and their habitat within the SPA network and the wider countryside.

The Open Seasons Order (Birds), the species listed upon it, and the dates of the various Open Seasons are available on the NPWS website.


The EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), seeks to conserve all wild birds in the EU by setting out rules for their protection, management, and control. The Directive covers birds, their eggs, nests, and habitats.

Under the Articles of the Birds Directive, Member States are obliged to ensure that the hunting of Annex II species “does not jeopardise conservation efforts in their distribution area”. At the NADEG meetings (EU Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directive) and their establishment of the Taskforce for the Recovery of Bird species, the European Commission proposed that, in the short-term, hunting should cease of all Annex II species that are not in a secure status, given the obligations of the Birds Directive.

Summary of Status of Annex II Bird Species Currently Included in the Open Seasons Order

14 of the 21 (67%) were the subject of national-level concern, on foot of the 2019 EU Article 12 report. They are:

  1. Red Grouse
  2. Teal
  3. Gadwall
  4. Wigeon
  5. Pintail
  6. Shoveler
  7. Scaup
  8. Tufted Duck
  9. Pochard
  10. Goldeneye
  11. Golden Plover
  12. Snipe
  13. Jack Snipe
  14. Woodcock

6 of the 21 (29%) are identified as high priority in the EU’s process. They are:

  1. Red Grouse
  2. Wigeon
  3. Pintail
  4. Scaup
  5. Tufted Duck
  6. Pochard

15 of the 21 (71%) are listed as Amber or Red on the Bird Watch Ireland Birds of Conservation Concern Ireland (BOCCI) list. They are:

  1. Red Grouse
  2. Mallard
  3. Teal
  4. Gadwall
  5. Wigeon
  6. Pintail
  7. Shoveler
  8. Scaup
  9. Tufted Duck
  10. Pochard
  11. Goldeneye
  12. Golden Plover
  13. Snipe
  14. Woodcock
  15. Greylag Goose