Watch Out For Wildlife When Cutting Down That Tree

Before cutting down and removing that tree, consider that it may be a haven for local wildlife. Although dead trees are unattractive and can pose a falling hazard on your property, it's best to plan a removal so it won't harm birds and other nesting animals.

Avoid Nesting Season

Birds and squirrels, the two species most likely to call your tree home, nest and raise their young during the spring and summer. At this time, your tree could be teaming with animals that aren't quite ready to escape the nest on their own.

Avoid removing the tree during this peak nesting season. Instead, plan your removal with a company like Tree Sculptors for late fall or winter when the there are no nestlings making a home in your tree. There may be adults overwintering in the tree, but they can usually make their way to safety at the first signs of disturbance.

Inspect the Tree

If you must remove the tree during nesting season, perform a full visual inspection. Look for any nests and relocate them if possible. It may be necessary to call out a professional wildlife worker if you suspect the nest belongs to an endangered or protected species. Even squirrels can be protected—for example, in California it's illegal to disturb a squirrel's nest when it contains babies.

For trees that pose a hazard and must come down immediately, work with the local wildlife officers if a protected species has set up home in your tree. Otherwise, you can opt to remove larger branches that pose the most immediate threat, and then finish removing the tree in fall or winter.

Trim Instead

Not all dead or dying trees have to come down immediately. You can leave the tree in place if there is no significant threat of it falling and causing damage or injury, or if it is in a seldom used area of your property. Instead, consider removing most of the branches, leaving only those that contain nests on the tree. After the nests empty for the year, allow the trunk to remain to rot in place. Woodpeckers especially depend upon standing deadwood to provide food and a habitat.

Once the branches come down, inspect them for any active nests. In most cases, you can relocate a nest to a nearby tree and the mother will find it once the activity in the area ceases. This will give the nestlings a chance of reuniting with mom so they can recover from the removal of their previous home.