As tree surgeons, it is incredibly important that we are aware of nesting birds, when the nesting bird season is, and the laws associated with it.
So, when is the nesting bird season, and why does it affect me?
There is no legally defined bird nesting season, however, the majority of birds do typically tend to nest between the beginning of March and the beginning of August. However, it is important to remember that the nesting season varies greatly depending on several factors such as the weather conditions in any given year and from one bird species to another. This means that while it is commonly recognised that nesting birds are more common between March and August, birds will be nesting outside of this window and regardless to the month of nesting, it is still illegal to disturb them.
Arb Association states that it is recommended that ALL vegetation or tree clearance work should be undertaken outside of the ‘Bird Nesting Season’, however, with changing factors and birds nesting regardless to specific months, this does make it particularly difficult to navigate, so here’s what you need to know…
What is the law with nesting birds?
As tree surgeons, we must avoid impact to nesting birds due to infringement of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds directive.
This is because it is against the law to disturb wild nesting birds and the penalties that can be imposed are significant both in terms of fines and sentencing.
Beware of potentially unlimited fines and up to six months in prison
You must remember that all birds seen to be nesting, along with their eggs and the nest itself are all protected by law.
Here’s a little breakdown…
The protection of birds throughout the nesting season is covered by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Below is the link to the section of legislation from chapter 69 of the Act specific to nesting birds.
The first section is the most relevant to any tree, hedge or coarse vegetation work, and is what most tree surgeons should be aware of.
GOV.UK outlines that you are breaking the law if you:
- Intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds.
- Intentionally take, damage or destroy a wild bird’s nest while it’s being used or built.
- Intentionally take or destroy a wild bird’s egg.
- Possess, control or transport live or dead wild birds, parts of wild birds, or their eggs.
- Sell wild birds or put them on display for sale.
- Use prohibited methods to kill or take wild birds.
What should I do?
If, as a tree surgeon, you check a tree visually for wildlife and consider it to be low risk, but accidentally uncover or knock a birds nest out of a tree, there will be very little evidence protecting you from prosecution. However, a simple written wildlife assessment form – while it will not provide complete protection in a court of law (dependant on the situation) – will show diligence from a company that the incident was an unforeseen mistake. In this case, it would be considered a wildlife disturbance. During the nesting season, you should always assume that nesting birds will be present. It is our responsibility as tree surgeons/contractors, to assess, record and confirm that any work(s) carried out has/have not disturbed actively nesting birds.
You should also consider ground vegetation which can easily be overlooked. In some cases, there may be ground nesting sites which is why additional care must be taken when accessing sites as not to cause accidental disturbance or damage. You would still be held accountable if anything were to happen.
*Please note, this article is just a guideline and there is the possibility that birds will be nesting outside of the months stated.
Want to get listed on Directree?
Are you a tree surgeon? Click the button to claim your free listing and see our other membership options today!
Are you looking for a tree surgeon?
Are you looking for a professional in your area to help you? Click the button to search our database today!