|A mourning dove egg from an abandoned nest. Photo by J.J. Meyer|
By this time of year, it's safe and legal to remove bird nests from your property because the breeding for songbirds is over.
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 can fine homeowners and companies who blatantly harass or harm a protected bird or nest. Note that this law does not protect non-native species.
Some species, such as hummingbirds and raptors, will reuse nests year after year. Many bird experts recommend leaving these nests undisturbed. Clean out nest boxes, but leave them up year-round. Some species roost in nest boxes on cold nights.
Use gloves and dispose of the nest in your green waste container. Bird nests can harbor mites.
Note: The egg shown in the photo above never hatched while the parents were on the nest. We found it when we removed the nest, which was long after the birds had flown off. However, the pair had success with one baby that fledged.