Nesting Bird Season

Natural England states the official nesting bird season starts in February and ends in August, although it’s important to note that birds may nest outside this defined time frame depending on their species. That said, researchers have found that the most active period for nesting birds generally runs between the 1st of March and the 31st of July.

A robin in a tree during nesting bird season

As responsible tree contractors, we must avoid negatively impacting birds, nests and eggs by complying with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds Directives. With this in mind, Natural England recommends that all contractors aim to perform tree surgery, hedge cutting and site clearances outside the nesting bird season. However, working within nesting bird season is often unavoidable, as many situations and projects require arboricultural services throughout the year. 

When a tree contractor needs to work during the nesting bird season, they must first complete a thorough survey to identify any nests, then plan and record how they will proceed without disturbing them. The penalties for damaging or disturbing nests are significant; you and your contractor may face unlimited fines and up to six months in prison. 

Some bird species in the UK are becoming increasingly rare, and we all have a responsibility to protect them by complying with the latest rules and regulations. When selecting a tree surgery company, you should ensure they understand these directives and ask them to describe how they plan to complete your work while conforming to government legislation. If a contractor cannot demonstrate how they’ll responsibly complete your work during nesting bird season, then you should consider whether they have the correct credentials for the job.  

As arboricultural professionals and firm believers in conservation, we always carry out the pre-work surveys and paperwork required to perform tree work during nesting bird season. Our experienced arborists carefully check for nests and bird activity across the job site, in trees, bushes and ground-level vegetation. Less knowledgeable contractors may overlook birds nesting at ground level and unknowingly disturb them.

Some people think the nesting bird legislation doesn’t protect certain bird species, such as pigeons, crows and magpies; this is wrong!! All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 while actively nesting or roosting.

The only exception, where you may be permitted to prune or fell a tree with an active nest present, is if the bird species is not protected and the tree threatens health and safety. If so, you must document the circumstances and reasons for carrying out the work in detail. Please Note: if the bird species is protected, you must first acquire a license provided by DEFRA.

If you have birds nesting in your trees, we would always suggest postponing the work until the nesting season ends. That said, if you have a project which requires completion within the season, you can rest assured Guildford Tree Surgeons will use our in-depth knowledge and experience to protect any birds and work within the parameters of the directives. 

For more information about Guildford Tree Surgeons and our services, you can use our contact form or call a team member today on 01483 910361