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Vancouver, V5N 4E8

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Insights into Urban Ecosystem Management from a Practitioner's Perspective 

Bird Nest Surveys: What to Know Before Removing Trees

Lucy Foley

Thinking of clearing trees on your property for a new development, to remove dead, dying or damaged stems and limbs, or to create a better view? Whatever the reason, there are a few considerations before you begin. The first is to be aware of your local tree bylaws and other regulations that may apply. A second consideration is the potential for nesting birds. In some municipalities, a tree permit will not be issued prior to conducting a bird nest survey.

Thinking of clearing trees on your property for a new development, to remove dead, dying or damaged stems and limbs, or to create a better view? Whatever the reason, there are a few considerations before you begin. The first is to be aware of your local tree bylaws and other regulations that may apply. A second consideration is the potential for nesting birds. In some municipalities, a tree permit will not be issued prior to conducting a bird nest survey.

Nesting season in Metro Vancouver for most birds occurs between March 1 and August 30, as directed by the BC Ministry of Environment in Develop with Care 2014: Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in British Columbia. Some birds, such as Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron, have longer nesting seasons that begin as early as January and last until September. Tree removal during these periods may affect nests and nesting behaviour of some birds. If possible, all tree removal and maintenance activities should occur outside of this period. However, if trees must be cleared during this time, a nest survey should be conducted to meet your legal requirements.

The objective of a nest survey is to determine, to the best possible standard, if any active bird nests are present at the site prior to tree clearing or vegetation removal. This survey can help identify any active or protected nests and establish protective no disturbance buffers prior to commencing work. If active nests are identified, tree clearing may be delayed until fledglings have left the nest or another nest survey has been completed to verify that there are no active nests on site.

Diamond Head Consulting has Qualified Environmental Professionals who have significant experience conducting bird nest surveys in urban and rural areas as part of development. We also complete wildlife management plans and environmental site assessments. If you’re considering clearing trees or removing vegetation during the bird nesting window, please contact a member of our team. We would be happy to help you out.