The Commission and the Committee of representatives of Member States for the adaptation to technical and scientific progress (called the 'ORNIS committee') have recognised the need to have a clear interpretation of the concepts of Article 7(4) of the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds), i.e. the period of reproduction and of pre-nuptial migration (return to the breeding areas) for huntable bird species listed on Annex II of the Directive. The need for this information arose from a Court of Justice ruling of 1994 (cf. Association Pour la Protection des Animaux Sauvages and Others v. Préfet de Maine-et-Loire and Préfet de la Loire-Atlantique, Judgement of the Court of January 1994. C-435/ 92), which concluded that complete protection of huntable species must be guaranteed during these periods. A review of the best available information on the period of prenuptial migration and reproduction of each huntable species for each Member State where that species occurs was first carried out in 2001 and approved by the ORNIS Committee; it provides definitions for both the ‘period of reproduction’ and ‘return to the breeding areas’.
The document has now been updated to integrate data from new Member States and fill in missing data. Although quite comprehensive, it will need to be thoroughly reviewed and updated in the future to take into account the most recent data in all Member States and to lift some discrepancies between Member States.