Breeding season - be careful when you work in your garden!
The bird protection season begins on 1 March each year and ends on 30 September. Why is this important, what are you allowed to do and what not?
Breeding season of birds and their protection
At the beginning of the year, many garden owners look forward to the rising temperatures and spring so that they can finally start gardening. However, this is not only when gardening starts, but also the nesting and breeding season of our indigenous garden birds. Blackbirds, tits and wrens are the first to start. The breeding season officially begins on 1 March of each year and lasts until 30 September. This time is also referred to as bird protection time, which was defined in Section 39 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act and has been in effect since 1 March 2010. In these 7 months, birds in particular, but also other wild animals, should be given the opportunity to nest, breed and raise their young undisturbed in order to secure their numbers.
Hedges are important breeding and nesting sites
Since many birds like to build their nests and breed in hedges, these breeding sites are under special protection in Germany from March to September and must be left alone by humans. Failure to do so can even result in heavy fines. According to the law, it is forbidden from 1 March to 30 September to cut down trees, hedges, living fences, bushes and other woody plants, to cut back to the trunk or to remove them completely. This applies regardless of the location, i.e. not only for the open countryside, but also for private gardens and other green spaces. To protect the birds, hedges and trees may only be severely cut back in the winter months from October to February.
What is allowed?
Gentle pruning is nevertheless permitted during the bird protection period to maintain the shape or health of the trees and hedges: only the annual growth of the plant should be removed and no unnecessary damage should be done. Before you trim the hedge, it is important to carefully check whether there are already any nests. If this is the case, do not undertake any cutting for the time being, so that the birds are not disturbed.
Active nature conservation in your own garden
NABU generally recommends not to carry out this maintenance pruning during the main breeding season from March to June, because most garden birds such as tits and woodpeckers breed until July. Some species such as the bullfinch and the sparrow even need time until August. Hedgerows and shrubs offer ideal shelter, hiding places and places to sleep for birds and their young, which stay in the nest for days and weeks after hatching. Any disturbance by humans (e.g. cutting the hedge) is stressful for the birds and should therefore be avoided. Therefore, the protective branches should not be removed at this time either, for the benefit of the birds. The motto here is: Less is more!