Pruning and trimming your trees every year or two is a must to ensure they remain healthy and attractive. Failure to do so can result in weak growth and damaged branches, which can make the tree susceptible to disease or pests. Improperly pruned trees are also more likely to cause property damage, whether by dropping a damaged branch or blowing over in a storm. Unfortunately, trimming can also be problematic for the ecosystem of birds and small mammals that call a tree a home. The following tips can help you ensure your tree is pruned without endangering the wildlife within.
Tip #1: Know the Nesting Season
The nesting season is different depending on the type of bird or tree-dwelling mammals in your area, so it is best to talk to a local naturalist or professional tree trimmer to learn the location specific information. In general, most birds begin nesting in early spring and may continue to do so through late summer. Mammals like squirrels may have a couple of litters each year, usually in spring and late summer. When possible, plan to do major pruning outside of these times. Late winter right before the buds break on the trees is a time that is good for the trees, since they are about to put on spring growth, and works well with animal nesting habits.
Tip #2: Look Before You Cut
If you must prune during nesting season, such as to remove a damaged branch, give it a thorough inspection before making the cut. If you find a nest in the branch, you have one of two options. If it is safe to do so, leave the branch alone until the nestlings have flown the nest. If the branch is posing a hazard, you can put on gloves and gently move the nest to a nearby branch. Just make sure the nest is sufficiently camouflaged by foliage and high enough off the ground so cats and other predators aren't a major concern.
Tip #3: Clean Up Your Debris
Although winter is a prime time to trim, it may not be the best time to arrange for yard waste disposal. Unfortunately, creating a pile of dead branches can also attract some birds and small mammals for nesting purposes. You should collect all trimmings once you are finished and transport them to a dump or green waste recycling center to prevent animals from moving in once spring arrives. For this reason you should also remove any dead trees or dead branches in winter, too. You don't want spring-nesting animals to take up residence. Click here for more information on tree trimming.