Landscaping for Birds and Fire Protection

Living in fire-prone landscapes in California requires some modification of the areas around your home to protect it from fire. While there is no doubt that these modifications alter habitats used by wildlife, you can minimize the negative impacts on birds by paying attention to the timing of your activities.

In our area birds begin nesting in March and many still have dependent young as late as August. Since destruction of active bird nests is both against the law (Migratory Bird Treaty Act) and avoidable, the simplest approach is to conduct all clearing activities outside this period. This means doing the work in the cooler months, which is also easier on those doing this difficult work.

Keep in mind that birds do NOT just nest in trees. Many birds nest on or near the ground in brushy areas (e.g., California Quail, Bewick’s Wren, California Towhees, etc.). Just because you are NOT removing trees doesn’t mean you are not disturbing nests. Also, keep in mind that disturbance is most damaging early in the season when birds are on eggs or have young still in the nest. In general, the most sensitive period is likely to be mid-March through July. It is best to avoid all disturbance during this period.

The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County will chip brush that is cleared from defensible space of any permanent structure and/or 30’ from any roadside or driveway used for evacuation purposes. Any vegetation that grows past such limitations is beyond the boundaries of what we can chip.

Click below on “chipping” for more chipping information.