HOP Tree Life Program
The purpose of HOP's Tree Life Program is to give nesting owls, raptors and other wildlife the greatest chance possible to succeed. We do this by educating arborists and other people who need to know when and how to safely trim trees and shrubs without causing harm to wildlife. We also frequently site visits to determine if a tree is safe to cut down.
Many people connect springtime with the time owls, hawks and other raptors would be nesting. However, it can start much earlier in the greater Bay Area and for many species can continue until late fall (or later). This is an incredibly sensitive time for these animals. If you are considering tree work, or any work that could potentially disturb nesting owls, raptors or other wildlife please be very careful. It is actually illegal to disturb nesting raptors as they are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We have found that it is best to wait until late October through November to perform this kind of work. Late October - November is usually the time with the least amount of nesting owls and other raptors. Anytime that you need to perform tree work please be as careful as possible.
Download our HOP Tree Life Guide to learn what do do if you find a fallen nest or nestling. Including who to contact throughout the Bay area.
How To Assess If A Tree is Inhabited:
Look for signs:
1. Look for "white wash" at base of tree (bird poop).
2. Owl pellets on ground surrounding tree (an owl pellet is a dry pellet consisting of fur and bones from the prey of owls/raptors), hawks also produce pellets, but without bones.
3. Vocalization. Ask tree owners and neighbors if they have heard loud hooting, whistling, calling, hissing or screeching in neighborhood.
4. Carefully look for nests and cavities (but do not disturb tree in doing so). Many Owls and other birds nest in cavities (holes in trees), such as Barn Owls, Screech Owls and Woodpeckers. Most birds and Hawks use nests and can vary in size from tiny to quite large (Great Horned Owls use nests, though they don't build them themselves).
Feel free to contact the Hungry Owl Project for further advice. We can often make site visits (in the greater Bay Area) to determine if there are any nesting species in your tree.
What If You Find An Injured Raptor:
If you find an adult or nestling raptor on the ground and feel it is in danger please contact your local wildlife rehabilitation facility. In Marin County, CA contact the Hungry Owl Project emergency hotline at 415-518-9670, or WildCare at 415-453-1000, or the Marin Humane Society at 415-883-4621. In Sonoma County CA, contact the Bird Rescue Center at 707-523-BIRD. For other areas, please contact your local wildlife hospital or Humane Society.
Please provide as much information as possible about the location of the found nestlings, including landmarks. In order to reunite the owlets, or hawks, with their parents, we must place the new nest as close as possible to the original location and we must do so as quickly as possible. Removing a nestling from its family is an absolute last resort and should only be done if the bird is in grave danger. Many
nestlings will be on the ground during the fledging period and are still cared for by their parents. If you feel the nestling is in danger from ground predators, you can place a cardboard box over the bird until professional help arrives.
Wild animals require specialized care and diets that can only be provided by licensed wildlife rehabilitation facilities. It is a violation of federal law to keep wildlife - however well intentioned.