The UK's nesting season is a special time of year for bird-watchers, nature lovers and
conservationists alike. This period generally begins in March when the earliest migrating
birds arrive to nest and ends around August or September when they leave again. During
this time, many species of birds can be found building their nests, laying eggs and rearing
It is important to remember that if you find a bird’s nest on your property, it is illegal to
disturb the nest or remove any eggs or young birds. Doing so can result in fines, as well as
endangerment of the species.
To avoid disturbing nesting birds, it's best not to prune trees and shrubs during nesting
season. Trimming branches can remove essential cover for nests and frighten away parent birds. In some cases, trimming may even damage existing nests. If possible, wait until after the nesting season before pruning vegetation near a known nesting site or potential habitat.
How to spot an active nest
If you notice any of the following signs, chances are there is an active nest nearby:
- Birds flying in and out of a particular area or spot. You may also see them gathering
material like twigs and leaves to build the nest.
- Nests can often be seen built high up in trees or on rooftops. They are usually made
from sticks and twigs, grasses, leaves, feathers, mud and other materials found
nearby. If you look closely enough, you may even see eggs inside!
- All day long birds will come back to tend to the nest and feed their young. Look for
birds carrying food into the same area over multiple days. It could indicate that they
are bringing food back to a growing brood.
- Listen for loud chirping or squawking noises coming from the same spot. Young birds
will make these sounds when they’re hungry and need their parents to bring them
Creating a safety spot for wildlife
Here are some suggestions for creating a wildlife retreat in your back garden:
Plant trees, shrubs and other plants that produce fruit and berries. These are especially
good for attracting birds during the winter months when natural food sources are scarce.
Add birdbaths and feeders. You can attract all kinds of birds by adding a birdbath, providing
fresh water for drinking and bathing. Birdbaths also make it easy for you to observe birds in your garden.
Plant native plants that grow naturally in your area. Plants native to an area are adapted to
its climate and soil conditions, so they're easier to grow than exotic plants that may require more maintenance or watering. Native plants typically provide food or cover for wildlife without being invasive or destructive of other species' habitats.
Create sheltered areas where animals can safely rest or nest without fear of predators such as cats or dogs entering the space
The best time to trim trees is before the nesting season. Birds will nest in the tree during this time and if you cut it down, they will not have a place to nest. If you trim your trees in the fall or winter, it will be less stressful for the birds and wildlife. If you do not have time for this, then wait until spring when your trees are blooming to trim them again.
If you are intent on trimming during this period, use caution and inspect the area first. If you do find a nest, keep your distance and proceed with caution. Not only will this ensure that you remain in compliance with the law, it also helps protect birds from harm.
If possible, opt for alternative methods of trimming vegetation on your property like manual pruning instead of power tools. This can help reduce disturbances to birds while still allowing you to maintain your trees and shrubs.
Trimming your trees before the nesting season will benefit birds and wildlife because they need their nests to survive. If they cannot find a tree that has enough room for their nest, then they may not be able to lay eggs or raise their babies.
by Rosie Buckley, Freelance Journalist