do birds nest in conifers

All wild birds are protected during nesting season. This includes their nests, whilst in use or being built, as well as any eggs the nest may contain. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) it is an offence to:

Therefore it is best to avoid the cutting of trees or hedges between the 1st March and the end of August, as this is the main breeding period for most garden birds, who built their nests in trees and hedges. However, not just hedges and bushes, but also trees like conifers can provide perfect nesting sites for a variety of species at this time including blackbirds, robins, greenfinch, goldcrest and even larger birds such as sparrowhawks and crows, so care needs to be taken during any cutting. September and October can be a good time to do such work. However, it is always important to check first for nesting birds as some species always nest a bit later. Collared doves and wood pigeons for example are preoccupied by nesting at this time of the year and often choose large conifers to build their nests. If any birds are seen taking in nesting material, or one can actually see active nests, then one must leave cutting and trimming until these birds have fledged.

In the context of cutting and trimming, it is worth considering the benefits to wildlife that a mixed hedge would provide. Including species like hawthorn, holly, hazel and crab apple into a hedge will create a greater diversity of structure for nesting birds and a variety of food in the form of berries, seeds and fruit.

The WCA applies also to birds nesting in roof spaces or buildings. Many birds use roof spaces for nesting, and they are generally doing no harm or damage whilst there. The most frequent roof nesters are starlings and house sparrows, both of which are red listed because of major population declines. Because all wild birds and their active nests are protected by law, it would be a criminal offence to remove or block off an active nest. It is recommended that any roofing work is scheduled to be done outside the spring and summer months when birds are likely to be nesting. If swifts are nesting in the roof, then please always allow them to continue to share your home. Swifts are quiet when inside the roof and cause no problems at all. They are suffering from a shortage of nesting sites, and any lost site is very difficult to replace. House martins are amber listed because of their population decline, and should be allowed to nest too. Young starlings can be a bit noisy during the last few days before fledging, and it is understandable that a nest above a bedroom might be a little bit of a nuisance. However, this is not a justifiable reason to remove a nest or to block the entrance into the roof space. It usually does not take them very long anyway until they are fully fledged. If you must deter birds from nesting in your roof, work to deny access must be done during the winter months, and not when they are nesting. Also, regarding other roof nesting species, one should bear in mind that some native species like pigeons can nest throughout the year. It is also recommended to install chimney cowls to avoid jackdaws or owls being trapped in a chimney or behind a fire place.

When it comes to the protection of wild bird species, there are a few ‘legal’ exceptions from the general rule. The first irregularity in the law is caused by the man made existence of so called ‘game birds’, such as pheasants. Captive ‘game birds’ are ‘livestock’, just like captive chickens. If animals are regarded as ‘livestock’, then the same animal welfare provisions apply to a pheasant as to a domestic fowl. This means that a pheasant needs sufficient space, food and water. When millions of non-native pheasants or other ‘game birds’ like the red-legged partridge are legally released into the countryside, then they loose their legal ‘livestock’ status and become wild birds, purely for the reason that it would be otherwise a legal conundrum to justify hunting ‘livestock’ for pleasure. As wild birds pheasants can legally be shot in the open season, and as wild birds they do not have an owner. This helps the game keeper, because if his or her pheasants would damage gardens or would cause a road traffic accident, then the incident would now be caused by a wild bird, and not someone’s ‘livestock’, for which the owner would normally be responsible. However, at the end of the shooting season, some shoots catch ‘leftover’ birds, something which would be illegal, if these pheasants would be legally regarded ‘wild birds’. Therefore, the status of pheasants reverts back into ‘livestock’ to allow this to happen legally. The whole legal situation has been specifically created to protect the interests of the shooting industry. Judging by this inconsistent legal status, one can only guess that surviving wild pheasants and their offspring would theoretically be protected during their nesting season.

Another exception is being made for some bird species, which are being regarded as so called ‘pest birds’. In these cases, and if a nest does need to be moved, a General Licence, issued by the government, allows ‘authorised persons’ to kill or take roof-nesting feral pigeons in Britain, and house sparrows, starlings and feral pigeons in Northern Ireland, and destroy their nests. However, this is only legal if it can be clearly shown that this action is going to be necessary for the purpose of preserving public health. Theoretically at least, convincing evidence of a public health risk needs to be provided. A few droppings or noise pollution are normally not being regarded as acceptable reasons. Suspected offences against nesting wild birds or their eggs should be reported to the local police force. Please ask for a wildlife crime officer to investigate for illegal activity.

As outlined above, active nests or nests being built, should never be intentionally moved. However, accidents may happen. If a nest is being unintentionally exposed, and the cover of the nest is maintained and undisturbed, then one should retreat immediately and watch the nest from a safe distance, ideally with binoculars, to make sure that the parents return and continue to feed the youngsters. If there are barely feathered birds in the nest, and the parents do not return within an hour, then these birds need to be rescued and kept warm in a padded, covered and well ventilated card board box or other safe container, and brought immediately to an experienced wild bird rescue. If the birds found in the nest are sufficiently feathered but not fledged, then one can wait a bit longer, but no longer than two or three hours, before these birds will require to be rescued as well. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the birds, the less time they can survive without sufficient warmth, food and water, the latter being provided by the parents in form of food.

If the nest cover has been destroyed by accident, then one can try to move the nest slightly to a safer place, in a radius of not more than one meter. However, there remains a high risk that parents will not return to a moved nest. If the nest has been moved, intentionally or unintentionally, then one must monitor the nest as described above. If the parents continue to feed, then all is fine. If not, then these youngsters need help as soon as possible and definitely before nightfall.

The following restrictions should be considered when cleaning nestboxes. In England and Wales, General Licence permits unsuccessful eggs to be removed from 1st September to 31st January. In Scotland, General Licence permits unsuccessful eggs to be removed from 1st August to 31st January. This would be the ideal time for nest boxes to be cleaned. Please note, it is illegal to keep any unhatched eggs. If there are unhatched eggs in the box, the relevant General Licence permits egg removal, but the eggs must be discarded.

All wild birds are protected during nesting season. This covers their nests while they are being constructed or used, as well as any eggs they may have within. It is illegal to do the following under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 (WCA):

The WCA also covers birds that build their nests on buildings or roof spaces. Many birds use roof spaces for their nests, and during their stay there, they usually cause no harm or damage. Starlings and house sparrows are the most common roof nesters; both are red listed due to significant population declines. Removing or blocking off an active nest would be illegal because all wild birds and their active nests are legally protected. Any roofing work should ideally be planned for a time outside of the spring and summer when birds are most likely to be building their nests. If swifts are building a nest in your roof, kindly let them stay in your house. When within the roof, swifts are silent and pose no threat. There is a severe lack of nesting sites for them, and it is very difficult to replace any that are lost. Due to their population decline, house martins are listed as amber, and they should be permitted to nest. It makes sense that a nest above a bedroom might be a little annoying as young starlings can be noisy in the final few days before they fly away. But this isn’t a good enough excuse to take down a nest or close off the roof space’s entrance. In any case, it usually doesn’t take them long to reach full flight. If you want to stop birds from building nests on your roof, you should work to restrict access in the winter, not while the birds are building. It’s important to keep in mind that certain native species, like pigeons, can build nests all year round when considering other species that use roofs for nesting. Installing chimney cowls is also advised to prevent owls or jackdaws from becoming stuck in chimneys or behind fireplaces.

When pruning and cutting, it’s important to keep in mind the advantages a mixed hedge would offer to wildlife. Planting species such as hawthorn, holly, hazel, and crab apple in a hedge will increase the structural diversity for birds that build their nests and provide a range of berries, seeds, and fruit.

Certain bird species, which are referred to as “pest birds,” are an additional exception. In certain situations, and should a nest require relocation, the government issues a General Licence that permits “authorized persons” to take or kill feral pigeons that nest on roofs in Britain, as well as house sparrows, starlings, and feral pigeons in Northern Ireland, along with destroying their nests. However, this is only permitted if it is evident that taking this action is essential to protecting the public’s health. In theory, at the very least, strong proof of a risk to public health must be presented. Generally speaking, a few droppings or some noise pollution are not considered acceptable explanations. Reports of suspected crimes against wild birds in nests or their eggs should be made to the local law enforcement agency. Kindly request that a wildlife crime officer look into any possible illegal activity.

Since most garden birds build their nests in trees and hedges, it is therefore best to avoid cutting trees or hedges between the first of March and the end of August. Care must be taken when cutting hedges and bushes because, at this time of year, many species, including blackbirds, robins, greenfinch, goldcrest, and even larger birds like sparrowhawks and crows, can find excellent nesting sites in trees like conifers. For this kind of work, September and October can be ideal months. Nonetheless, since certain species always nest a little later than others, it is always crucial to look first for nesting birds. During this time of year, nesting is the primary concern for certain birds, such as wood pigeons and collared doves, who frequently select large conifers to construct their nests. Cutting and trimming should cease until the birds have flown if any are observed consuming nesting materials or if active nests are visible.

I have these tall trees; I’m not sure if they are home to bird nests. The birds sing in the morning, then they simply sit, go outside, get food, and return. I also see them flying in and out without stopping. I have even witnessed cats simply waiting by sitting at the bottom. Additionally, foxes have been observed there at night, and this occurs annually.


Do birds build nests in conifers?

Conifers: Evergreens such as pines, spruces, firs, arbor vitae, and junipers provide excellent shelter, nest sites, and food.

Do birds build nests in shrubs?

Often these nests are very simple hollows that birds make in which to lay their eggs. Birds that nest on the ground are vulnerable to predators so these nests are well-camouflaged to blend in with their habitat. Many birds make their nests in hedges, bushes, thickets, and small trees.

How do I keep birds from nesting in my arborvitae?

The most effective method to keeping bird out of trees is bird netting, with alternative options using repellents, visual deterrents and sound deterrents. Netting will physically prevent birds from nesting, perching and attacking fruit baring trees.

What kind of bird makes a nest out of moss?

Red-breasted nuthatches build substantial nests of moss, down, and fibers in their nest cavities, whereas woodpeckers never put in any nest material.