|A California towhee chose a potted geranium for its nest site. Photo by J.J. Meyer|
Don't you hate waking up in the morning to the sound of a chainsaw? Imagine how the birds feel, especially this time of year.
Thousands of nests and babies are lost to thoughtless tree trimming during the nesting season, which extends February through August for most birds in Southern California. But there are actions we can take because the law is on our side.
Birds and active nests are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. This means the California Dept. of Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers fine homeowners and companies who blatantly harass or harm a protected bird or nest. Note that this law does not protect non-native species. According to this act, it is also illegal to possess birds, eggs, nests, feathers or other bird parts. Nor can you keep any wild bird as a pet. The act was written at the time when people wore egret feathers in their hats and signed documents with pelican-quill pens, much to the demise of millions of birds.
Don't run out and get yourself killed, but if you see trimmers at a tree with an active nest, you can ask to call their supervisor and advise him of the law. Hopefully you can persuade them to come back in a few weeks when the babies have fledged.
If they do not halt their tree hacking, try to get pictures of the nest, birds and perpetrators without putting yourself in harms way, then call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service migratory hotline at 310-328-1516. Officers will investigate whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.
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