Cutting back branches at this time of year could be “wiping out a vital food source for birds” according to RSPB.
The RSPB is appealing to gardeners and local authorities to wait a while longer before trimming hedges, trees and bushes.
The wildlife charity says that the ‘short back and sides’ approach in the garden is bad news for birds, as many plants will still have an abundance of berries which could see the birds through the winter.
Chopping them down could starve birds of a vital fruit supply.
You could also disturb late nesting birds as you hack away at greenery as they may still be resident in shrubs and hedges.
In chopping down hedges, bushes and trees you could be wiping out a vital food source for birds, and other creatures.
Val Osborne – RSPB
Peak breeding season has ended but garden birds like pigeons and collared doves have extended breeding periods and may still be nesting.
Most garden birds breed between March and August but some species will be on their nests until late into September.
The RSPB’s Val Osborne says: “If you can possibly wait a while to cut your foliage, please do. In chopping down hedges, bushes and trees you could be wiping out a vital food source for birds, and other creatures.
“Last year’s winter larder of berries on shrubs and hedges meant the difference between life and death for many resident birds and winter visitors, and if they are removed this early in the year, it could be disastrous.
“Never rule out the possibility that a little face might be staring back you when you chop back leaves too – it is extremely distressing for both the bird and the gardener when a potential nest or shelter is disturbed.”
The RSPB is also appealing to local councils to heed their advice, after receiving numerous calls from members of the public reporting that long stretches of hedgerows are being trimmed almost bare.
Some councils have to cut hedges for path access or horticultural reasons, but where there is flexibility, the wildlife charity suggests waiting until the end of summer.
If maintenance is unavoidable at this time, the RSPB asks that gardeners, local authorities and contractors consider nesting birds and do preliminary inspections.
The wildlife charity is heartened by the number of people calling in to report hedge cutting and find out whether they are right to suggest they stop.
If a nest is discovered, the advice is to try and restore any covering and leave it alone until young birds have flown the nest.
All bird’s nests and eggs are protected by law and it is illegal to deliberately destroy nests in your garden and the wider countryside.