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bird nesting season
The first day of February signals the official start of the bird nesting season in the UK, which means tree surgeons must adhere to strict regulations. 
 
According to Natural England, the season continues until August each year, with the busiest period between March and July. However, nesting depends on the species of bird so can happen outside of these months. 
 
So what can be done by tree surgeons to continue working during bird nesting season? In this blog, we aim to answer the key questions… 

What is the law on bird nesting? 

Qualified professionals will always strive to avoid disturbing nesting birds which would infringe the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as well as the European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds Directive. 
 
Before any work can commence, a visual survey must be performed by a competent person. Contractors should always assume that birds are nesting in trees, so they need to assess, record and confirm that any tree surgery has not impacted any actively nesting birds. 
 
Reputable tree surgeons will be fully compliant with the regulations and will be able to advise on the risks in your garden. If a contractor is not aware of the law, you need to consider if they are the right person for the job. 

Who is legally responsible? 

Technically, the tree surgeon carries the burden of responsibility, however the property owner is the client and also needs to be aware of the law on disturbing nesting birds. For example, work might need to be postponed until nesting season has ended. 
 
Some people believe that common birds are not protected by law, but this is not true. All wild bird species are protected, including pigeons and starlings, and it is an offence to remove eggs from a nest. 
 
It is worth remembering that the maximum penalty for each offence is a £5,000 fine and up to two years’ imprisonment. 

What about hedges and bushes? 

Here at Branching Out Tree and Garden Services, we often get asked to tackle other overgrown vegetation, including hedges and bushes. We treat these cases exactly the same as trees because birds can often be found nesting close to ground level. 
 
Due to the size of our vehicles and equipment, we must also take care when approaching and leaving a site. We must apply the same rules to any trees or hedges close to where we are working, even if they are on neighbouring properties. 

Are there any exceptions? 

Most rules have exceptions, particularly when there are health and safety issues. If a tree is posing a danger to life, it would obviously need to be dealt with as soon as possible. In these instances, the contractor would require the written consent of the property owner to work on a tree on health and safety grounds. 

For more information 

Branching Out Tree and Garden Services has qualified tree surgeons who cover the North Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire area. If you require professional help and advice, contact us today. 
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