Migratory Birds Nesting in Trees

  • Migratory birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Established to protect and restore populations driven nearly to extinction in some areas, the act remains in effect today.
  • Residents are reminded that Norfolk is surrounded by water and migratory birds are a part of our environment. It should also be noted that we expect to see more birds and other wildlife in Norfolk due to the good work that is improving the quality of water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
  • Unless there is an immediate or significant risk to public safety, we do not prune or remove trees while nests are occupied.
  • Migratory birds such as herons and egrets return to the same trees or groups of trees each season. Due to the nesting habits of these birds we would not prune or remove trees just for the reason of a nesting bird as this would present a domino effect of moving the problem along to other neighbors while of course removing valuable urban forest canopy.
  • While it is not standard practice, we may remove unoccupied nests while performing scheduled pruning for safety reasons (deadwood and/or structural issue). Residents are informed that removing nests does not discourage birds from nesting in their preferred tree or area the following year.
  • While migratory water fowl droppings may be considered a nuisance, they are not considered a public safety or public health issue. Residents would have to petition the Health Department.
  • We also inform citizens that it is lawful to haze migratory birds with noise or water as they are returning to build their nest, but as soon as there are eggs and/or active nesting occurring these activities must cease according to Federal law. These hazing methods will have various levels of success.
  • As for removing nuisance bird droppings from City streets, street sweeping is performed on city streets monthly. Public works goal is to hit both sides of each street 12 times a year depending on weather events. Street sweepers are engineered to brush and sweep the full street using minimal spraying of water, and are not designed to concentrate on single area of staining. Due to the full schedule of keeping all of Norfolk's streets clean it is not feasible for Public Works to redirect their street sweepers for nuisance street staining from bird droppings.