Nesting Birds and The Effects on Tree Work


  • Author Graftintrees
  • Published July 30, 2020
  • Word count 1,050

Anyone who works with trees must be aware of the constraints and legalities regarding nesting birds. In the UK, nesting season lasts from as early as February right through to the end of August depending on where in the country you are as well as the species of birds. The weather also plays a part, making these months exciting for fans of nature and wildlife.

Gardens provide a multitude of nest locations from birdhouses fixed trees or walls to little spots under housing eaves for house martins or swallows. Hedges and trees are also common nesting grounds as you would expect.

Tree Workers in the UK

Any tree workers should be fully insured and accredited, but they should also be responsible and abide by the constraints of the laws such as the European Habitats Directive (1992) and the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), which means that active nesting sites are never touched.

Best Times to Book Tree Work

In order to avoid nesting seasons, the best time to book tree work is before the spring and summer seasons, that is, before the birds begin to make their nests. Tree surgeons should also carry out a comprehensive assessment of the ecology and wildlife in the area before beginning. If any active nests are found, contractors should down tools and postpone the work until the nest has been discarded by its feathered occupants.

Sometimes it is difficult to balance the need for tree work with a nest that may be there for a huge chunk of the year. This is why it is important to think about tree work in the wintertime before the usual nesting seasons start.

Professional Responsibilities of Tree Surgeons

There are certain circumstances that mean some tree works may need to be carried out during the nesting seasons. If this is necessary, a pre-works survey must be carried out. Generally, tree workers must assume that birds are nesting in the trees and therefore this needs to be assessed and recorded. Contractors must also confirm that any work they have carried out has not disturbed any birds that are actively nesting.

At times, birds that are ground-nesting can be overlooked and so it is important that care and additional controls are taken out in regard to any ground vegetation. The same is true for any trees that remain as when adjacent trees are removed or when remedial work is carried out on neighbouring trees, this could cause established nests to be exposed to the elements or predators and result in abandonment. Clients should be sympathetic to the tree workers’ limitations if work needs to be postponed until after the nesting season.

The Law

We have mentioned the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). This act states that it is an offence against Section 1 to take, destroy or damage intentionally any wild bird’s nest whilst it is being built or is in use. It also stipulates that it is an offence to injure, kill, or remove chicks or adult birds as well as their eggs. An example of a purposeful act would be that if you are aware that an active bird’s nest is in a hedge and yet you continue to cut the foliage and damage the nest or birds and their eggs whilst doing so. If someone else is cutting a hedge you must mention the law and risks to them. If they proceed where there is an active nest, it is perfectly acceptable to contact your local police using 101. You can also contact the RSPB.

It is a misconception that these laws only apply to certain bird species. It is true to state that all species of wild birds come under the protection of this law, as do their eggs. It is also an offence to remove eggs from a nest even if you believe it is unoccupied or has been abandoned.

These offences come with a penalty including a fine of up to £5,000 as well as a prison sentence of up to six months as deemed by the Magistrates Court. This can also be sent to the Crown Court where there is also a £5,000 fine maximum penalty and a prison sentence of up to two years.

The majority of the responsibility for nesting birds and their protection lies with the contractors. However, the clients must also play their part in protecting the wild birds in their gardens, homes, and on their land.

Continuing with Tree Work

The above laws and recommendations do not mean that tree work and hedge trimming cannot be carried out at all during the nesting period. They simply stipulate that assessments and extra care must be taken in advance of tree work and that clients must understand the laws and their responsibilities too.

Usually, responsible tree workers will come and observe an area themselves for a period of time before they begin any works. This may involve sitting in a car nearby to watch birds coming in and out of any hedgerows or trees. Usually, half an hour in the midmorning is all that it would take to carry out such an assessment. Clients can, of course, do this themselves. But it should not come as a surprise that some contractors will want to observe for themselves.

Think of the Birds

Whilst you might be fed up with overgrown trees and hedges, you must try to keep the birds in mind especially in the summer months. Many native species of birds are struggling for survival in the UK these days due to lots of factors. Climate change has had an impact on insects that they feed on for one. Additionally, habitats have been destroyed due to changes in land use from agricultural land to housing. Fewer crops are also available and we are getting better at removing species of weeds and grasses too. These all have an impact on bird populations.

In essence, you should not add to birds’ struggles by removing their homes or destroying their habitats which they have chosen to place in your tree or bush. Allow the birds their peace in their home as you would expect in yours. Perhaps consider feeding the birds some seed or mealworms. Sit back and enjoy seeing those fledgelings taking their first flight out of the nest, nicely protected inside your tree or hedge.

GraftinGardeners are highly skilled and qualified arborists with many years of experience. We provide the widest range of tree surgery services compared to other tree companies. Fine out more about tree Surgeons London by visiting this link.

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