We can all keep our eyes out for bird nests in our gardens' hedgerows, shrubs, and trees: especially when trimming & pruning them!
According to RSPB guidelines, the main months of birds nesting in the UK are March to August inclusive, so we always check thoroughly for nests before hacking back any of our shrubbery, never mind our bird friendly hedge mix (which we sell bareroot, so it's not available in July: pre-ordering for winter delivery opens later this Summer).
July is graduation month for the fledglings of many species, so they will be testing their wings and hanging around the nest edge.
I've heard tell of other, deeply careless and remorseful gardeners who knocked such young'uns to the ground only days before they were ready to make the jump. Upon replacing them into their nest, they immediately dived head first back out onto the patio; the good news was that the patio was unharmed.
Obviously I would never be so negligent myself, that was a second-hand anecdote passed on so that others may benefit.
Different birds, between them, build nests almost everywhere: right in the centre of a bush, on the outer twigs, just above the ground, at the highest stable point, slung underneath branches, and if the trunk has holes in it, some will nest there too unless bats got there first.
I have to prune a plant with a bird nest in it, what do I do?
If at all possible, wait for the nest to empty. Most nests are finished by the end of July, with a handful of species continuing as late as October (including pigeons, who may not be missed by some, allegedly).
Otherwise, prune around the nest without damaging it or the branches it's connected to, and leaving it enough cover so that it is about as well hidden from passing predators as it was before you pruned.
Prune with hand tools like our folding saw, loppers, and shears, firmly holding stems that you cut near the nest to avoid shaking it.
The trick to checking a hedge or bushy tree that you want to prune during nesting season is to start from the base of the main stem outwards to the twigs, and then start again from the tips of the outer twigs inwards to the main stem, doing your best to face a different way each time to see into all the nooks and crannies. Get down low to inspect the ground and to look up, then get as high as you safely can to look down.
Then, as you work, stop to check dense brushy growth as you expose it.
It is marvellous how a nest can be in full view from one angle, invisible only two feet away from another, and that is why it's so easy to slice through them with trimmers: most of them are literally camouflaged!
When they aren't getting cosy in the bushes, birds love eating insects, and the perennial plants on this pre-filtered list are a good place to start pulling in more
flying bird lunches beautiful butterflies.