The Harrier

Subtitle: The newsletter of Devon Birds

Bounties on Birds

Bounties on birds

King Henry V111 passed some wildlife legislation in 1532 that encouraged the killing of nuisance birds for a payment, a bounty. This state of affairs continued into the 20th century.
It is uncertain what effect it had on populations but there was some shrewd thinking where birds were taken after breeding so there were plenty enough for the next year to maintain an income.
The local churchwardens were responsible for raising the money and paying the bounty for which they needed heads as evidence.
Initially the emphasis was on Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws but in 1566 it was extended to include Bullfinch, Magpie, Jay, Raven, Buzzard, Kite, harriers and Osprey. Green Woodpecker for damaging timber roof shingles, Shag, Cormorant and Kingsher, basically any birds that affected human interests.
One of the interesting records when compared against modern records was the bounty paid on 1245 Kites at Lezant in Cornwall between 1755 – 1809. For more records read Bird Populations by Ian Newton.
Many parish records are now probably held at the Devon Records Office at Sowton, Exeter. I had intended visiting and checking these records but our old enemy time beat me.
So here is a challenge for someone to fill in this blank in our historical knowledge of the birds of the Parishes of Devon, I am sure Mike Lock would print some of the findings in Devon Birds.

Mike Goss


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