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By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The Puget Sound region is home to a wide array of wildlife species, many of whom make their homes in the forests and single trees in our region. Trees and forests provide critical habitat, cover and nesting sites to many wild species including cavity nesting owls, woodpeckers, native squirrels and bats; not to mention the multitude of birds whose amazing nests grace thick limbs and tiny branches alike.

750 Anna's Hummingbird on Nest, PAWS Campus
An Anna's Hummingbird sits in a nest


February through September are the most active nesting months for Washington wildlife, trees will be teeming with life. Please be aware that pruning or cutting down trees during this time can and does displace, harm, and even kill a variety of wildlife species. PAWS Wildlife Center receives hundreds of baby wild animals each year, many of which are displaced when their nest tree was cut down or their nest site was destroyed.

750 Black-capped Chickadees nesting, PAWS Campus
Black-capped Chickadees nesting


Before cutting down any tree, whether it is alive or dead, please consider taking the following steps to prevent unnecessary loss of life or habitat:

  • Plan tree-cutting projects from November through January, which is well after nesting season.
  • Inspect the tree for active nests before beginning work on the tree.
  • Consider cutting just the bare minimum of branches, leaving the nest section alone.
  • Standing dead trees (snags) are great wildlife habitats, often housing several different species. Please consider leaving snags standing. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages the public to save their snags as wildlife habitat. You can even purchase a sign from them to display on your snag to help educate your community.
  • If the tree does not present a hazard, the best course of action may be to leave it alone, as all trees provide some form of habitat for wild creatures.
  • Many wildlife species are federally protected and the law prohibits destroying and/or disturbing their nests.
  • If a nest-bearing tree absolutely must be cut down, first call PAWS at 425.412.4040 to find out what steps to take.
750 Northern Flicker, active nest PAWS Campus 062012
A Northern Flicker feeds her young


The staff at PAWS Wildlife Center would like to thank you for helping to preserve our wildlife and their habitats. Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions.

750 Bushtit nest construction, PAWS Campus
A Bushtit builds a nest

Comments

nice information.

very important information, we can't live without wildlife

We should not cut trees but instead plant more to preserve wildlife habitat

The HUGE tree in my backyard has to come down asap we found out from a specialist because it's dead and dropping large dangerous branches. I know there are squirrels and likely chipmunks living in the tree, but live too high to see whether there is a nest.

I'm extremely concerned with what happens when the tree is cut down. My parents say the animals will hear the chainsaws and leave the tree, but what if they have nests and the babies can't get out in time?! Please email me asap because they're taking it down over the next few days unfortunately!

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