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Tree & Bird Safety

Professional Nest Surveys

If you are not comfortable or able to perform a nest survey prior to your project, seek help from a qualified biological consultant or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Either one can perform a nest survey of the trees, shrubs, brush, or other vegetation in question. Many nests are not easy to spot. Special care needs to be taken to survey the project area if it includes trees, abandoned buildings, brush, vacant lots, and deadfall.

How Finding Nests May Affect a Project

If the nest contains unhatched eggs or young, you may need to delay work within 50 feet or more of the nest. Once the species is identified, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or Golden Gate Audubon may be able to provide the amount of time until the eggs hatch and nestlings fledge. If the nest is voluntarily abandoned or depredated, work probably can be continued. However, a precise determination can only be made by an expert such as a consulting biologist or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Why Nests Can’t be Disturbed or Moved to Another Location

Parents choose a nest location for specific reasons: proximity to food and water sources, and protection from predators and the elements. Birds may abandon their nest and offspring if it is disturbed or if the parents are harassed. Moving a nest requires special permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is usually only granted for human health and safety reasons.

What to Do If You See Someone Disturbing or Destroying Nests

Ask them to stop, and make them aware it is against the law. Then call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at (888) 334-2258.

Be prepared to provide the exact location of the activity. Specifically note address and cross streets, as well as a vehicle license plate number or name of the company doing the trimming.

Why Protect Birds’ Nests?

First and foremost, birds are protected under the law. Second, birds provide numerous beneficial activities, such as eating many thousands of insect pests, which may eliminate some of the need for toxic pesticides. They also disperse seeds over wide areas, ensuring plant health and biodiversity. Finally, many bird populations nationwide are plummeting primarily due to the impact of human activities. Birds are creatures of the earth, a family of animals with which we share this planet and its limited resources. Our positive, cumulative actions can make the difference in ensuring their long-term survival.   

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