Respect the Nest

Respect the Nest

It's Not Yet Safe to Prune Trees!

WildCare is admitting a second round of baby squirrels and baby birds into our Wildlife Hospital right now, and many of them arrive because their nests were cut down by tree trimmers.

Many squirrel and bird species have more than one brood of babies in a summer. We often see a spike in injured and orphaned baby animals in mid to late summer, because people assume it's now safe to trim and prune trees.

IT'S NOT! Please delay non-emergency tree trimming until winter (late November and December)!

Learn more about how you can Respect the Nest and help avoid preventable injuries to wildlife like squirrels below.

These baby squirrels were found on the ground in the remains of their nest. They were thin and cold, and incredibly dehydrated. We don't know what happened to their nest, or to their mother, but we're very glad a passerby heard one of the babies squeaking and stopped to investigate!

In the video above, you'll see some of the initial care we provided for these very young squirrels. They are currently thriving in Foster Care, and we expect them to grow up healthy, strong, and ready to be released back to the wild!

With the help of nationally-acclaimed artist Michael Schwab, WildCare asks you to Respect the Nest!

Each spring, birds, squirrels and other animals prepare nests for their newborn and newly-hatched babies in your trees, shrubs and hedges.

WildCare’s Wildlife Hospital admits hundreds of injured and orphaned baby animals every spring and summer, many of them victims of tree-trimming and pruning accidents.

Nests are camouflaged intentionally, and this means baby animals too often become the victims of chainsaws and clippers.

Renowned artist Michael Schwab has created a stunning new graphic to help WildCare remind people everywhere to Respect the Nest!

From his studio in Marin County, Michael Schwab has established a national reputation as one of America's leading graphic artists.

He has created national award-winning logos and posters for a remarkable list of prestigious clients, including Apple, Amtrak, the Golden Gate National Parks, Major League Baseball, Robert Mondavi, Muhammad Ali, Nike, Pebble Beach, Polo Ralph Lauren, Robert Redford, San Francisco Opera, Sundance, Sunset Books, Wells Fargo, and now WildCare!

Mr. Schwab’s art is immediately recognizable, bringing together striking combinations of black and color to create unforgettable and iconic images.

San Francisco Bay Area residents especially will recognize his series for the local State and National Parks.

WildCare is honored to introduce Mr. Schwab’s beautiful and impactful art for our Respect the Nest Campaign! Posters are available at

WildCare’s Respect the Nest Campaign will spread awareness of the vulnerability of baby birds, squirrels and other newborn wildlife during the spring and summer months. Although the prime nesting months for wildlife vary by region, with some species in the Bay Area nesting in January and February, nest awareness everywhere should begin in March and continue through the autumn.

Spring (and summer!) are busy baby season— procrastinate now!

Robins in knitted nest. Photo by Alison Hermance When is wildlife nesting?

There is some variation, but most wild animals have their first brood of babies in the spring, between March and June. However, especially in warmer climates, animals may actually nest year-round! ALWAYS be nest-aware when pruning and trimming!

Many species will also have a second brood in July or August if food supplies are sufficient, meaning that "baby season" stretches into October in many areas.

As our Respect the Nest graphic states, please be especially nest-aware from March through October!

If you can plan to trim your trees in the winter months (November and December), you can generally avoid the possibility of damaging a nest.

Note that January is probably safe in most areas, but WildCare does often admit our first baby hummingbirds and Eastern Fox Squirrels in January, so be extra cautious!

Winter is also a healthier time for the trees, when the sap has gone down and trees will be in their dormant phase.

Call WildCare at 415-456-7283 if you're unsure when it is a safe time to trim or remove a tree.

Nests are camouflaged intentionally, so they can be missed, even by the most careful inspection. It really is best to avoid trimming and pruning between March and October.

WildCare also asks you to avoid pruning shrubs bushes and hedges during the spring, summer and early fall months because many species nest in them too. However, not all plants want to be pruned in November/December. For some plants you may be removing flowers or fruit. Check with your local gardening experts for guidance on plant species in your yard, but always be nest-aware when pruning!

Respect the Nest Webinar

WildCare's Respect the Nest webinar on March 9, 2021 was a great success!

Thank you to everyone who attended.

Watch the recorded event above (and stay tuned till the end to watch our orphaned baby squirrels being fed!)

Resources from the webinar:

Small World Tree Company (Jim Cairnes, Arborist) — 415-455-0909

Squirrel Reunite Protocol (PDF)

ISA Wildlife Guidelines (PDF) (mentioned in webinar)

Useful books:

Nests and Nestlings of North American Birds (buy on Amazon)

The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds (buy on Amazon)