Do your tree trimming during late fall to early winter.

Most wild animals have their newborns in the spring, between March and June. However, many species will also have a second nest in July or August if food supplies are sufficient. Limiting tree trimming to the winter months reduces the likelihood tree trimming will damage a nest or its sensitive inhabitants.

Look before you cut!

Before you cut that tree, look to see if there are wild families already living there. If so, give them a chance to grow up and move out. Some species of birds and raptors nest in hidden tree cavities, (e.g., owls and woodpeckers) so don’t forget to check your trees thoroughly before trimming or felling. Remember to check for nests in snags or standing dead trees before removal too—they are prime nesting spots for many species of animals.

How to spot a nest?

Squirrels and birds like to nest in larger trees and bushes at least 8 feet off the ground. They generally build their nests in the forks of branches.

  • A squirrel’s nest is usually about six to eight inches but can reach up to two feet wide and is made of twigs and leaves on the outside and pet hair and soft materials on the inside. In colder areas, squirrels like to build their nests inside tree trunks.
  • A bird’s nest can be anywhere from two inches for small birds to two feet for larger birds of prey. They are also made of twigs, leaves, and animal fur.

More reasons to wait until the winter to trim your trees
  • Tree trimming during the warmer months reduces shade on your home, causing an expensive increase in energy consumption
  • Cutting, trimming, and pruning during spring and early summer can lead to diseases and intrusion of pests that harm trees. Early winter is the best time to trim branches when trees are dormant.
  • Palms are adapted to windstorms. Removing fronds is of no benefit and is detrimental to the palm. Even dying leaves contribute to the health of the palm and should not be removed until completely brown. Only coconuts and large palm seeds should be removed during hurricane season.