Tree Trimming Contractor Saves Nesting Hawks

Baby hawks in nest in tree

Recently wildlife advocates had reason to applaud a crew of  tree trimmers from West Coast Arborist who were working in the city of Los Angeles.  When the crew discovered nesting birds in a tree that was slated for pruning, they did what advocates wish all tree trimmers would do. They left the vulnerable family of Cooper’s Hawks, undisturbed. Trimming was postponed until the birds had left their home. Ironically, the decision was made by Dave Cooper, the Operations Manager for the company’s Los Angeles area.  Bird advocates were amused at the symbolic ‘kinship’ between the birds and their protector.

What was especially commendable is that West Coast Arborists knew that it would have been unwise to do any work in the tree, even if they left the nest in tact.  Here’s why.  Nesting birds are disturbed by the noise of equipment and presence of people near the nest.  Furthermore when surrounding foliage or limbs are removed, the nest may become dangerously exposed to the elements and to predators.  When trimming trees, it is best to keep a 500 yard distance from nesting hawks.

For most birds, nesting season is February 1 to August 31. The risk of predators and unfavorable weather are constant.  It is a perilous time and about half of immature birds don’t make it past their first year.  Those that nest in dead trees or dead limbs, or behind palm fronds are especially susceptible when tree trimmers come along.  Another risk about which many people are unaware is the fact that hawks unknowing eat and feed poisoned rodents to their young.  Such poisons come in the form of products put out by homeowners and property managers.  These products can be lethal to untargeted wildlife when animals consume the poisoned prey.

The Migratory Bird Act protects nesting birds but the welfare of nestlings greatly depends on knowledge of the law, degree of education and care taken by crews and those that hire them.

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