Michelle Bedford photo. The American robin is one of the first North American bird species to lay eggs, and normally has two to three broods per breeding season, which lasts from April to July.

Winter tree pruning is best for nesting birds

Submitted by Warren Warttig

Special to The Record

You may not have known this, but the beginning of October to the end of February is the best time to trim your shrubs and hedges and prune your trees. This period is the least likely to disturb nesting songbirds, owls, eagles and other birds of prey.

Each year, the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) Wildlife Rescue receives dozens of little fledglings because of people pruning during the bird-nesting season (March to the end of September). Although gardening seems like a distant memory, nesting season for songbirds is quickly approaching so please reach for those pruning shears, power saws and hedge trimmers soon!

For many birds, the nest stays where it is for the duration of the nesting season (or new nests are built nearby). Parents raise their brood – sometimes watching over not just one set of babies, but often a second or third brood.

This is where problems can arise. By late spring parts of our properties are looking withered and untidy. Some of those branches are begging to be cut to make things neat and orderly. By deciding to prune too soon, whether with a noisy chainsaw or the simple snip of a branch, we can cause harm to a bird family. Depending on the kind of bird family you’re dealing with, they may flee the area for a while or dive-bomb you to protect the young or abandon the nest altogether.

A good thought to keep in mind in the spring and summer might be “Don’t prune – procrastinate!”

If you can sit back and have another lemonade and leave the pruning until fall, it’s a win-win for birds and the MARS Wildlife Rescue volunteers and staff.

The birds will thank you, and MARS will also thank you.

If procrastinating isn’t enough, here’s something to think about: it is an offence under Section 34 of B.C.’s Wildlife Act to disturb or destroy an active bird nest (also found under the federal Migratory Bird Conventions Act). So let’s make sure we give the acrobats of the skies a great start to their beautiful, winged and song-filled lives.

Warren Warttig is the president of the MARS Wildlife Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wind and waves were part of the reason why the Sail Canada High Performance Team selected HMCS Quadra as the winter training base for Tokyo 2021. Photo by Ken Dool
National sailing team prepares for Olympics at HMCS Quadra in Comox

HMCS Quadra is serving as the winter training base for the Canadian… Continue reading

Courtenay residents will have a substantial schedule change for curbside trash collection beginning in January 2021. (Ben Lypka/Black Press file)
Courtenay moving to a zone system for curbside trash collection

New system means collection days will change with every statutory holiday

A jubilant Ronna-Rae Leonard salutes the crowd at her victory party at the Avalanche Bar & Grill. (photo by Scott Stanfield)
UPDATE: Leonard declared early winner for Courtenay-Comox

NDP incumbent held similar margin of lead throughout the evening

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Jordan Jay Ward, 20, is wanted Canada-wide for manslaughter. (Calgary police photo)
RCMP: Suspicious man seen in Parksville woods resembled manslaughter suspect

Hikers say he resembled Jordan Jay Ward, wanted Canada-wide

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Most Read