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Timing is Everything when Trimming Trees

Posted on 10 April 2011

By Danni Duggan for Landscape Network

There is something about trimming trees.  It is one of those chores that we know we need to schedule, but we find lots of other activities to fill the days and months.  It is also a perfect chore to assign to the experts.  Depending on the size of the trees to be cut or the location of the branches that need thinning or removal, it can be a dangerous chore indeed.

An important consideration when scheduling tree maintenance or removal is the time of year, and whether or not the tree may be home to nesting birds who may be incubating eggs or raising young.  Animal rehabilitation centers all over the country receive frantic telephone calls each spring when routine tree maintenance to protect your home suddenly displaces a family of birds.  Much of this is avoidable if you schedule tree trimming in the fall or winter months.  While it may be difficult to trim trees in the deep winter in Denver, early and late winter are both good options.

Prevention is the first order of business.  If you wait until the fall or winter for any tree trimming services, you are least likely to interfere with bird or squirrel nests.  If the trees in your yard present an immediate danger, then pay special attention to the tree to determine if you see birds flying in and out of the tree with twigs or food that would indicate that they may be building a nest or tending young.  Listen for the tell-tale sign of babies.

If you suspect that there may be baby birds in a nest, consult a tree removal expert to determine if your project can wait until the fall.  Interviewing the company you plan to hire is a strong component of prevention.  Ask them what measures they take to determine that the tree can be trimmed without displacing wildlife.  Will they scout the tree first?  Do they know what to do if they find a nest?  Are they familiar with nest relocation procedures, or do they have contact information for state-licensed rehabilitators?

So what if you have done your homework, believe it is safe to trim your tree, but still discover a nest after the fact?  First, realize that it is a myth that touching a baby bird will cause its parents to reject it.  Also realize that you can move the entire nest to another location within the tree, and there is a possibility that the parents will continue to sit the nest and tend their young in the new location.  If you have removed a tree entirely, you can attempt to move the nest to the next closest tree.  If there are no more nearby trees available, you can try putting the nest in a shallow box with the lid removed and attaching it to the side of your house.  Be watchful and make sure that mom and dad are still coming around and feeding their babies.  Give it several hours to a full day before you panic, but do have the number of a state-licensed rehabilitator handy.  Also give the nest space.  You cannot hover around the nest and then wonder why mom and dad are not coming back to it.

Realize that you do have options if your tree trimming accidentally interferes with wildlife, but scheduling services in the fall and winter is your best bet for achieving your tree trimming objectives without impacting an avian or mammalian family.

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