How To Prevent Wildlife Endangerment During Tree Removal

A sick tree can pose a major hazard to your home, as well as to anyone standing below. Eventually the tree will die or become so weakened that it will fall, but in the interim there is also the danger of dropping branches. For this reason, you will likely want to have it removed. At the same time, you may be concerned about any wildlife that has taken up residence in the ailing tree. The following tips can help you take down the tree without harming any birds or animals.

Tip #1: Wait until winter

Most songbirds and small mammals nest and breed from spring through fall, so this is when vulnerable young animals that cannot easily leave are within the tree. This makes winter, particularly midwinter through late winter, the best time to schedule your tree removal. As an added benefit, late winter is also a good time to prune, so you can schedule your removal of the sick tree to coincide with the pruning of the rest of your trees.

Tip #2: Check for active nests

The two most common types of nests found in an urban or suburban tree are bird or squirrel nests. Bird nests can be far out on a limb, so they are harder to spot from the ground. This is why winter removal is so important. Squirrel nests, called dreys, are very easy to spot – especially in the winter months when there are no leaves on the tree. Most dreys are built in a branch crotch, usually near the trunk. They resemble a ball of dead leaves and twigs that is similar in size to a sport ball. You can check the inside of the nest to make sure there are no young present. If there is, you may need to wait for them to mature before you remove the tree.

Tip #3: Warn the wildlife

Don't start by cutting off the main limbs or just hacking down the tree. Instead, begin by trimming off some of the lower limbs first, after carefully checking that there are no nests. This gives any adult animals in the tree a warning that the tree is going to come down, which provides them with time to flee. For a smaller tree, you may want to cut off a couple of branches and then wait for 10 minutes or so. This way, you aren't blocking the exit for any animals that need to climb down the trunk.

Contact a tree service to find out what steps they take to protect wildlife during removal. Visit to learn more.