Spring is almost here, and for many of us that means it’s time to get out in the sun and start sprucing up the yard. But wait. Remember what also goes along with spring? Baby birds and animals are being born.

Spring and summer are the most dangerous seasons to trim trees. Animals of all species may be using your tree as a nursery. Each year, we at Napa Wildlife Rescue take in hundreds of orphaned birds and squirrels. The most common reason is that their tree has been trimmed, resulting in their nest being damaged or coming down. Fortunately, this is very preventable with a few easy steps.

What can you do to prevent orphaning squirrels and birds?

Procrastinate. Trim trees in fall and winter. It’s a healthier time for the trees, when the sap is down and trees are in their dormant phase. So time is almost up for 2019. Early-bird squirrels are already giving birth.

  • If you can’t wait and are doing the trimming yourself, make sure to look for and avoid any balls of twigs and grass. Not all nests look like stereotypical nests. Some nests look like balls of sticks, a hole in a tree, or a moss/grass sock. Do not cut any branches you cannot inspect first for anything that could be a nest. If in doubt, leave it.
  • If you are using a tree trimmer or arborist, make them aware that you want to protect any nests they might find. Most arborists know to look for and avoid nests, but a reminder won’t hurt. If they find an active nest, usually it is just a matter of weeks before the babies grow up and move out. Then, trimming can proceed safely.
  • Lastly, mistakes happen. Sometimes a branch falls on another branch that you or the arborist was avoiding. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the wind blows down a nest you carefully left intact. Sometimes you hear peeping sounds after it’s on the ground.

When that happens, you often have the power of the second chance. The most important thing to do right away is call Napa Wildlife Rescue’s hotline: 707-224-HAWK (4295). The Hawkline can direct you on what to do to maximize the survival chances of the babies.  Depending on the circumstances, we may try to reunite the babies with their family, put up a replacement nest, or take them into care and raise them as surrogate parents.  Every nest is different, so please call first. The Hawkline runs seven days a week, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. If we can’t answer your call live (baby season is busy), leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Want to help us rescue, rehabilitate and release Napa Wildlife back into the wild? Our next volunteer orientations are on Sunday, March 3, from 1-4 p.m., or Sunday, April 7 from 1-4 p.m. Email our manager, Linnaea, at wildlifeadmin@napawildliferescue.org for location and to RSVP.

More information at napawildliferescue.org.

John Comisky, President

Napa Wildlife Rescue