At this time of year, we get a number of calls about hedge cutting and tree pruning in the nesting season. It’s amazing how many people think you cannot touch hedges and trees while birds are nesting, but you can. People are very passionate about protecting our bird life, quite rightly, but I thought I would do a bit of myth busting.
So, what does this information tell us? Well, it’s all about common sense and timing. One of our most frequent calls is about felling conifers; they are normally very big, out of control, difficult to see into to check for nests and when people decide to get rid of them, they want to do it now! Although it can be more difficult with the weather, try to aim to get the work done in the winter months. Cutting the lower branches off of a conifer will allow you to look up into the tree for nests, and old nests and roosting sites are not protected by the WCA. Regardless of the time of year, if you find an active nest you need to leave the tree or hedge until the fledglings have left the nest, then you can carry out the work.
Song Thrush - Mike Richards (rspb-images.com)
With our warm and wetter springs and summers, hedges can quickly become unmanageable. It’s OK to use secateurs or sheers to keep a hedge under control, and if you do disturb an adult from their nest, they should return when you leave the area. Birds have different strategies for raising their young; some only nest once a year and others have multiple broods. On the whole, they tend to build new nests in different locations, but some birds, for example House Sparrows, will use the same nest all year, but the WCA still applies while the birds are actively nesting at any time of year.
What can you do?
Hopefully, your garden won’t get too out of control while the birds are nesting! If you’d like some ideas on how to encourage wildlife into your garden, check out our gardening pages on the link below.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654