Springtime is just around the corner, and winter rains will have brought new growth to the vegetation. The lush and diverse plant communities surrounding our homes will host a wide variety of wildlife, including many resident and migratory bird species. Birds utilize the trees, shrubs, ground, and even buildings and bridges for nesting sites during the breeding season, which is generally March through August.
Coincidentally, these months are also popular times for trimming trees and shrubs and clearing weeds, especially in fire-prone areas. But uninspected removal of vegetation can harm nests, eggs, and young; destroy potential habitat; and even eliminate food sources. As is the case with so many animals’ habitats, human activities are causing declines in many bird populations, despite the passing of federal and state laws meant to protect native birds, their nests, eggs, and young.
Still, there are several precautions you can take to leave birds and their homes unharmed:
• It is best to avoid trimming during the breeding season, and you should undertake any necessary vegetation removal during the months of September through February.
• Look closely for nests or signs of high activity before trimming around the house and yard.
• When an active nest is discovered, cease any disturbing activities until the young have fledged or the nest is abandoned.
• Never attempt to relocate a nest.
• On larger properties or areas with dense native vegetation, it may be necessary to hire a trained biologist to survey for nesting activity.
• Report illegal removal or disturbance of active nests.
Most importantly, learn what birds are nesting in your neighborhood. Get to know them, enjoy them, and help to conserve the beauty and ecological value that birds provide for future generations. —Andy Lanes
For more info about area birds and birding activities, visit the S.B. Audubon Society at santabarbaraaudubon.org.