The bird nesting season according to Natural England begins on March 1st and runs through to August 31st. This however is a guideline, and it can be assumed that birds will nest both before and after this time period.
It is advised that any work carried out to trees, hedges or vegetation should not be implemented during this season. However, in some instances this is neither practical nor possible. As contractors it is our responsibility to ensure that work to trees and vegetation carried out within this period avoids any impact on nesting birds. This would be an infringement of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and in breach of The European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds Directive.
Before any work is carried out within this season a thorough visual survey needs to be carried out to ensure there are no nesting birds present or that the intended work will not disturb any birds nesting near to the work site. During this season it should be assumed that nesting birds will be present and therefore it is the duty of the client and contractor to prove otherwise.
Although most of the responsibility lies with the contractor it is important that as a client you are sympathetic to the laws behind disturbing nesting birds. This may result in work being postponed until all nesting birds have gone. It is also a common misconception that certain bird species are not protected under these laws. In fact, all wild bird species are protected, as are any eggs and it is an offence to remove them from an unoccupied nest.
The maximum penalty for each offence is a £5000 fine and up to six months imprisonment in the Magistrates court, and a £5000 fine and up to two years imprisonment in the Crown Court.