When You’re Trimming Trees and Shrubs, Don’t Harm These Tiny Nests… It’s Illegal

Yard work can be a dreaded task, but the way you go about it could actually save lives.

When you’re trimming shrubs and trees, make sure you keep an eye out for little nests that protect the eggs of one of our favorite feathered friends. Hummingbird nests are tiny – roughly the size of a large walnut or golf ball. They don’t need to be all that spacious, as their eggs are about as big as jelly beans.

PHOTO: PIXABAY/ASTRID ZAMORA

Hummingbirds often build their nests in the forked branch of a tree, thin plant branches, or in dense bushes. They may also surprise you by setting one up on a clothesline or on the top of wind chimes. You likely don’t need to spend time trimming those, though, so just be sure to check for nests in common plant locations.

To help spot them, you may want to keep an eye out for the items hummingbirds add to their nests. Those include spider webs, moss, and lichen flakes. These additions make for good camouflage to keep the eggs safe.

If you happen to find one on a branch or shrub you were about to trim, what should you do? Just leave it be. It’s illegal to destroy or tamper with a nest that contains eggs or is actively visited by birds. There may be an option for a removal permit, but it’s unlikely that your circumstances will apply.

Plus, when you leave it alone, you may get the chance to see the baby birds once they hatch. As they grow, their mothers will feed them small insects and nectar. They can be pretty crafty about gathering food, too, even snatching insects from spider webs.

If you enjoy seeing these tiny guys, what can you do to make your yard more hummingbird-friendly? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says you should have a variety of flowering plants, including medium and large trees, shrubs, vines, perennial flowers, and annual flowers. It’s best if you have something flowering from spring until fall. Also, make sure your cats stay away from birds, preferably only viewing them from inside the house.

If you’re interested in installing a bird feeder, you do need to be careful about how you maintain it, though. If it isn’t cleaned properly, you may be putting birds at risk of illness. To find out how to make your feeder as hummingbird-friendly and safe as possible, check out these important tips.

PHOTO: USFWS/JON HEALE
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