If you're considering lopping a tree on your property, there are a few key points that need to be considered. Even if you are in fact permitted to reduce the tree's size, there can be some downsides. Your garden might no longer be appealing to nesting birds, which is bad news for them. And of course, when they nest elsewhere, you are being deprived of their beauty. So what's the best way to lop or prune trees while still making them appealing to the local bird population?
Make Sure Your Plans Are Permitted
You need to determine whether or not you are permitted to alter the tree. Some trees are deemed to be significant and might be under the protection of a preservation order. This can even occur when the tree is located on your property, placing limitations on what can be done to the tree. There are some circumstances under which the tree can be trimmed or removed, such as if the tree has degraded to the point where it can pose a threat to people or property. Your first port of call should be your local city council who can tell you if the tree in question is under a preservation order. Regardless of whether you do the work yourself or if you hire a tree lopping company, the onus is on you to check.
Previous Use of the Tree
Try to recall whether or not you have seen birds nesting in the tree (or trees) in question. Ask the other members of your household if they can remember having ever seen birds nesting in the tree. While not conclusive, previous nesting activity is indicative of the fact that birds might want to return for the next nesting season. To alter the tree too much can be to deprive yourself of these birds calling your garden home.
A Hollow in the Tree
Is there a natural hollow in the tree in question? If possible, any alterations to the tree should leave this hollow intact so that it can be kept as a nesting site. Using a ladder (and maintaining a safe distance) you should check for any evidence of current nesting. Depending on which types of birds use the hollow (if known), it might be prudent to delay tree lopping until after the nesting season. For example, the sulphur-crested cockatoo (a lively though beautiful sight in your backyard) can nest from May to September in the north of Australia, and from August to January in the south of the country. If the hollow in the tree needs to be sacrificed, you can replace it with an actual nesting box, attached to the tree if enough height remains to keep the birds safe from predators.
With a little bit of thought and planning, it can certainly be possible to lop or trim a tree on your property while still keeping it as an appealing spot for the local birds.