Planning Tree Work Protects Wildlife.

Spring is truly upon us and there is a noticeable stir in nature. One of the most obvious stirrings is that of our native birds fluttering around gathering their nesting materials. If any of you have been paying attention to your gardens you will see Long-tailed Tits returning to the brambles with beaks full of feathers or animal hair,  alternatively rookeries that have been quiet all winter are being refurbished with twigs from all over the 32 counties. From March until the last days of August all our native birds take to our hedgerows, forests and gardens to give life to the next generation.

All this activity makes life complicated for people as we too begin to venture outside preparing our gardens, which have been dormant all winter, for the long light filled summer days ahead. Whether you realise it or not our gardens provide important habitat for breeding birds and bats using hedgerows and trees. So how do we accommodate this important time of year for wildlife while maintaining our own piece of paradise?

As Tree Surgeons we come into direct contact with nesting birds and roosting bats, we have learned over the years that in order to continue carrying out tree work in these months trees need to be clear of wildlife. Here is some advice from us at Tree Services Ireland when it comes to carrying out tree work while also protecting the wildlife that make our gardens all the more vibrant to spend time in.

Plan your Tree Work

Generally, having a professional tree surgeon carry out work on your trees in the winter months has the least impact on the all round health of the tree, deciduous trees especially are storing their energy in the dormant months and have more time to seal any wounds before the next dormant season come around. Then as summer approaches the tree will respond with more vigorous regrowth in the growing months. Importantly in winter, trees providing habitat for our local wildlife are free of nesting birds, with insect and mammal use significantly reduced.

Remove Ivy

Ivy wrapped trees provide the perfect nesting site for birds and roosting bats. We have a rule of thumb at Tree Services Ireland, “If the tree has ivy in it, then the tree will inevitably have nesting birds in it.” Removing or killing off the ivy months in advance of nesting season will ensure that your tree surgeon can work without encountering hidden nests or roosts. It is worth noting that Tree Surgeons are prohibited by law from disturbing nesting birds from the 1st of March until the 31st of August, again this falls under planning when it comes to managing your trees. Stopping the advancing ivy on your trees is easy, simply find the main ivy stem at the base of the tree you want work carried out on and cut sections out to stop the follow of energy to the rest of the creeping vine. Within a couple of months the ivy will have lost all it’s vigor and be less attractive to birds looking to nest in dense cover. Eventually the ivy will die back completely.

Install Bird and Bat Boxes

Putting appropriate nesting boxes and bat hotels around your garden provides alternative nesting opportunities in trees of your choosing. If you want these little creatures to seriously consider using these designated sites around your garden it is important to understand how to place a successful nesting box or bat hotel. This requires you to think like a little bird or bat and not like a human!!

Trees Providing Habitat Value

As mentioned above your trees provide incredible habitat for our native garden wildlife, even a dead or dying tree can provide important homes. Depending on proximity to your own home and if the situation and safety allows it, dead or dying trees can be made safe by your tree surgeon while retaining habitat value for wildlife in your gardens or properties. Best to consult your tree surgeon however for advice when considering this option.

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Also, ask your tree surgeon to pile some of the processed wood from your trees in a discreet area of your garden. This will encourage biodiversity as all kinds of mosses and lichens colonize the pile, bugs looking for shelter, food and nesting sites in your gardens favor wood piles like this as they begin to decompose. This in turn encourages more small mammal and bird activity.

With a bit of planning we can have best of both worlds, safe and healthy trees and an abundance of nature’s wonders in our gardens. Because lets face it, the presence of wildlife in our gardens is one of life little pleasures.

Trees provide all kinds of habitat for bats.