Bird nests are protected

For the past few weeks, I've noticed the arborists trimming trees around town and am concerned about the possibility of birds still having nests in the branches that are cut down. We still have nests with baby birds in our trees, so I'm wondering whether the guys check for them before they are trimmed?

— Maureen S., Medford

Don't fret, Maureen, most of the birds in town and their nests are protected by a federal law that prevents arborists from tampering with them.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits people from harming protected birds or destroying their nests. All birds except for house sparrows, starlings and rock doves are protected by the law, said Vince Oredson, assistant wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

"You can't kill birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and that includes destroying a nest," he said.

City of Medford arborists are required to check for bird nests before trimming trees, said Parks Superintendent Dobey Elliott.

"I can tell you we pay attention to that," he said.

City arborists won't trim a tree with a bird nest in it unless the tree is a hazard to pedestrians, Elliot said.

People trimming trees on their property should climb a ladder and check for bird nests before getting to work, Oredson said. Or, they can simply wait until the nesting season is over. It typically lasts from April through July.

So after this month, Maureen, the little birds you've worried about should be able to fly away on their own should a tree saw come their way.

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