Pruning Your Trees Without Harming the Local Bird Population
The US has some 860 different bird species, with 91 of those species classified as threatened. While the birds nesting in your backyard might not be endangered in the traditional sense, you don't want to contribute to further declining in their numbers by accidentally wiping out a nest. So how can you prune your trees when there might be birds nesting in the area?
Inspect the Tree Before You Start
Tree pruning can be rather precise, with the tree's bulk being reduced branch by branch. It can also be extremely quick, removing a lot of foliage all at once, if you happen to use an electric pruning saw. Whatever your method, it's important to closely inspect the tree before you begin.
Look Out for Nests
You're looking for nests, but spotting one isn't necessarily evidence of nesting unless you can see eggs or hatchlings. If possible, use a ladder to climb high enough for a vantage point to see inside the nest. Don't get too close because the mama bird won't be happy and you could get hurt.
An empty nest can indicate that hatchlings have become fledglings, and the nest is no longer in use. Of course, the nest might still be under construction, but as long as it's not actively being used, you're not harming the local bird population.
Choose the Best Time of the Year
You're less likely to encounter an active nest if you trim your trees outside of nesting season. It's difficult to pinpoint actual dates, however, most nesting occurs in the spring. There can be some variances, and it depends on the local climate, as well as the specific species of bird. For this reason, you might want to give your trees a light summer pruning after the nesting season has long gone, as well as a heavy pruning in later winter, before the tree's active spring growth commences.
Give the Birds an Alternative
You can also make trees less appealing as nesting sites by installing nesting boxes on your property. A nesting box can be attached to a building on your property, or on a properly anchored pole. This won't prevent birds from building a nest elsewhere, but it can help to reduce the likelihood.
And of course, when you are inspecting trees to look for nests, and pruning your trees outside of nesting season is more effort than you're willing to put in, you can hire a professional arborist service, such as Git-R-Down Tree Service LLC, to take care of your trees for you.