Hedge your bets for nature this year

Kate Slater

Monday 16 March 2020

Put down your shears and protect wildlife

With our wildlife under threat, the RSPB is asking gardeners to help wildlife this year by putting down the shears until August as hedgerows in the UK become vital homes for some of our most loved animals.

The charity is appealing to stop hedge cutting and be extra careful when tending to gardens from now on. Many people mistakenly believe birds only nest between April and September; but the wildlife charity is anxious to warn gardeners that some species have already started.

Singing, displaying and nest building among birds like blackbirds, magpies, wrens and robins has started with a vengeance, proving that the breeding season will soon be in full swing. Pruning hedges or shrubs and tidying plants could have a serious effect on their breeding success this spring if nests are dislodged or damaged. As birds are naturally secretive and tend to hide their nests away for safety, they can be difficult to spot.

The RSPB is asking people to stop cutting and pruning and save everything but essential tidying until later in the year. Where work is vital, the charity is urging people to keep their eyes peeled and tread carefully.

If a nest is discovered, the advice is to try and restore any covering preferably with cuttings from the same hedge or those nearby and give it a wide berth until young birds have flown the nest.

Charlotte Ambrose, RSPB Wildlife Adviser, says: “It really is time to put the shears down as the breeding season is underway. We know that many people will be keen to get out and prepare their gardens for the summer months as daylight lasts longer and it gets a little milder. But this is the most vulnerable time for birds who have either eyed up the perfect spot, started making a nest or already raising a family.

“If you really feel you must chop and prune, please be aware that it is illegal to intentionally take, damage or destroy an active nest. You should thoroughly check for nests before you start cutting and if you find any during you need to stop.  This year is a critical year for nature and with global leaders deciding the fate of our planet later in 2020, it’s crucial we all play our part in giving nature a home.”

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