East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is asking anyone thinking of cutting down trees or bushes to think about nesting birds at this time of year.
The winter storms have caused many people to question whether they want to live so close to trees and many dangerous or damaged trees are being felled too. "I have seen so many trees cut down recently and sadly despite the best efforts of many tree surgeons to avoid cutting trees down which have nesting birds in, many are just not seen until after the youngsters are found on the ground now orphaned" said Trevor Weeks MBE founder of WRAS.
All nesting birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, and despite there being a general licence for a limited number of birds to be removed under a very limited series of circumstances, the majority of nests must be left undisturbed until after the young have fledged, be that a nesting feral pigeon, gull or nesting Sparrowhawk or Blackbird. "We often get asked when are birds nesting, and when is it safe to cut down trees, this is very difficult to answer and the seasons change so much. Generally the winter is the best time for avoiding nesting birds. However Crossbills will nest during the winter as will collared doves. The temperature dictates when most birds will nest and the current warm weather is seeing many birds now nesting as a result and WRAS has already had baby pigeons, doves and blackbirds come into care - some of which have come in via tree surgeons cutting trees down" said WRAS Casualty Centre Manager Lindsay Redfern.
WRAS feels it is a shame so many trees are being cut down, and most of the felling like at Oakwood Drive in Uckfield, is as a result of trees not being managed and maintained over the years. "If we want to live in enriched areas and have trees or bushes present to enlighten our living environment, rather than being surrounded by concrete, then trees and bushes have to be maintained be it in public space or on private land. We would urge people to contact a trees surgeon and seek advice about long term maintenance rather than just leave then till a problem occurs" said Trevor.
WRAS is urging people not to make any rash decision and to cut trees down as a result of the stormy weather this winter, but to seek advice about the safety of the tree first before making a decision.
"Please think nesting birds at the moment too, and avoid cutting trees, especially evergreen trees, down at this time of year which are more likely to have nests in at the moment as other deciduous trees won't have many leaves yet and therefore are too exposed for birds to nest in. Please also remember that intentionally disturbing nesting birds is an offence" said Trevor.
"It's really sad as we are often called by people cutting trees down and asked to take on the orphans but rarely are our costs covered in these situations by those responsible for the trees being felled" said Trevor.
The cost of WRAS rearing an orphaned bird from a tree various depending on the species and age, and can range from as little as £10 and up to more than £75 per bird. If you can help WRAS, please donate online or call 01825 873003.
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Trevor Weeks MBE - East Sussex WRAS: 01825 873003 or 07931 523958