Birds Nest Collage

Tree Work During Nesting Season, The Facts

Posted on June 03, 2019

Nesting season here in the UK can last from February to August depending on location, species and weather and is an exciting time for wildlife fans.

Your garden can provide a variety of nesting locations from purpose built bird houses attached to trees and walls to cosy spots under the eaves for species like Swallows and House Martins and of course in trees and hedges.

As fully accredited, insured and responsible tree and hedge contractors we, at Teign Trees, abide by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the European Habitats Directive 1992, which means we never touch a site with an active nest.

Book your Tree and Hedge Work

If you have tree and hedge work that needs tackling try to make sure you get it booked in before the Spring/Summer, before our feathered friends start making their homes.

We always carryout a thorough 'Wildlife & Ecological Assessment' before we start a new project. If an active nest is found we down tools and the job is postponed until the nest is empty. At times it can be difficult to balance tree work that needs to be done with a nest that could be used for a large portion of the year for raising chicks and also for roosting, that's why we advise booking in early to avoid any delays.

One of our recommendations if you have hedges or trees that need regular or seasonal pruning but you tend to forget to get them booked in, is to speak to a member of our team in the office, by giving us a call on 01626 773499 or emailing, to arrange for us to give you a call out of nesting season to arrange your tree and hedge work.

Professional Responsibilities

Here is the guidance from our accrediting body The Arboricultural Association which you can also find on their website.

‘The ‘Bird Nesting Season’ is officially from February until August and it is recommended that vegetation works (tree or hedge cutting) or site clearance should be done outside of the nesting season. However, in reality the nesting period may start before this and extend beyond it, in some cases. The busiest time for nesting birds is from 1st March until 31st July and of course varies according to species, etc.

As contractors we must aim to avoid impact to nesting birds and infringement of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and breaching the European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds Directive.

When tree or vegetation clearance work has to be undertaken during the nesting season, a pre-works survey needs to be carried out by a suitably competent person. As a general rule, it should be assumed that birds will be nesting in trees, and as contractors it is down to us to assess, record and confirm that any works carried out in the management of trees and other vegetation has not disturbed actively nesting birds.

Ground vegetation, and therefore ground nesting birds, can often be overlooked by tree workers so additional care and controls should be taken when access and egress to the work site may also cause disturbance or damage to a nesting site. This is also true for retained trees on site as the removal of adjacent trees or remedial works on a tree may lead to the established nest being abandoned, exposed to the elements or predation.

In our experience most clients are sympathetic and if works need to be put on hold until nesting is over then this is usually accepted.’

Finding Out More

There are a number of websites where you can find out further information on nesting birds - both the laws that protect them and also how to encourage and provide safe spaces for them to nest in your own garden.

The RSPB has a great FAQs page on Breeding Birds, Nests, Eggs and Songs and the BBC’s Springwatch site is a brilliant resource for clips, information and tips. A great date for your diary is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch which is an annual count of garden/wild birds and usually takes place at the end of January and allows you to log the number of species you’ve seen in your garden and submit the results online.

The Law

The RSPB recommend not cutting hedges and trees between March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds, although some birds may nest outside this period. It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built, or to intentionally kill, injure or take chicks or adults, or intentionally take or destroy any eggs. It is an intentional act, for example, if you or your neighbour know there is an active nest in the hedge and still cut the hedge, damaging or destroying the nest or contents in the process. If someone is cutting a hedge during this period, speak to them and politely mention the risk to birds’ nests, and the laws protecting nests. If they proceed, and you know there is an active nest at risk, contact the police on 101, and ask for a reference number. If you are unsure what to do, contact RSPB Wildlife Enquiries on: 01767 693690 or if you are in the Devon/Cornwall area call our office on 01626 773499 for more advice from one of our Tree Team Managers.