It’s bird nesting season in Santa Rosa! This is an exciting time of year for bird watchers and naturalists alike. From March through early September, Sonoma County is home to 90 different resident and migratory species of native songbirds (or passerines) that will breed and raise their young (Madrone Audubon Society). Unfortunately, this is also the time of year that many residents tend to trim trees, prune shrubs, and clear brush from their backyards and property. Severely cutting, trimming, and topping trees, bushes, reeds, and other greenery in the spring and summer can destroy nests and eliminate valuable nest sites.
Bird nests come in all different shapes and sizes, each one more fascinating than the next. Some birds, like raptors, create large nests of twigs and sticks high up in trees, while others nest inside bushes, tree cavities and on the ground. Some even build nests on human dwellings, bridges and other human-made structures. Birds use a wide variety of materials to construct their nests including mud, plant fibers, animal hair, moss, lichen, tree bark, twigs, spiders’ silk and even human trash such as string, dryer lint and plastic. The materials and construction design of the nest keep eggs and chicks protected and warm.
All native birds, their chicks, eggs and active nests are protected by a federal law called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as well as California State Codes 3503 and 3503.5. It is best to save your tree trimming and shrub pruning for late fall and winter to avoid impacting the nesting habits of our winged neighbors. If you must trim a tree or prune a shrub during the breeding season, carefully inspect the area before you begin the project. If you begin trimming, pruning or clearing vegetation and discover an active nest, cease the work immediately.
Be sure to keep an eye out for some of interesting bird nests shown below next time you’re walking along Santa Rosa Creek!
Photo: Great Egret and her young upon their nest. Steve Pearce Photography
Photo: Anna’s Hummingbird Nest/ Duke Coonrad/Audubon Photography Awards
Photo: Cliff Swallow Nests/ Susan Barnes/Flickr (CC BY-SA-2.0)
Photo: Canadian Goose Nest/ Santa Rosa Creeks Team
If you would like to learn more about the wonderful birds in our area, we encourage you to explore the Madrone Audubon Society’s website!