A Christmas tree is still standing in a market town six months after the end of the festive period – because a pigeon has taken up residence.
The tree in Beverley, East Yorkshire, was supposed to be removed by the local council in January, but a wood pigeon is now nesting in it, which means it cannot be taken away.
According to the Wildlife and Countryside React 1981, it is illicit to take, damage or demolish the nest of any wild bird when it is in use or built.
The law means the Christmas tree will stay in place until the pigeon leaves.
Local councillor Denis Healy, from Beverley Town Council, said the council ‘don’t want to remove the bird’ and will wait for the pigeon to leave.
He said: “The council came to move it earlier in the year, and the guys who found it said they shouldn’t be pushing it, so they didn’t.
Town’s Christmas Tree Still Standing in June
“We had lights on the tree, and they are still on it because we were advised moving them might disturb the bird. But the lights aren’t switched on.
“Quite a few people were wondering why a tree was still there and why it had been left.
“People were writing it, so we had to put notices on to tell people.
“As a green council, we care about biodiversity, nature and green issues; we wouldn’t want to remove the bird. But even if we did, it would be illegal.”
Wildlife experts have told the council that the pigeon may move from its nest next month as the breeding season ends.
Beverley Town Council was told it was illegal to remove the tree because it is against the law to damage a wild bird’s nest while it is in use.
The tree was supposed to be removed in January, but the wood pigeon is still in residence five months later.
Councillor Alison Healy said: “We have to consider our wildlife and make that a priority.”
She said: “The tree might look a bit forlorn and neglected in our eyes, but it’s a desirable residence for one particular bird and its family.”
She said the town council had been getting “quite a lot of comments” on the wilting Christmas tree.
Ms Healy said it was a “unique situation” for the council, and the bird was being checked on regularly by East Riding of Yorkshire Council officers.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 save wild birds and their eggs. It means it is an offence to take, damage or destroy the roost of any rough bird time that nest is in use or being built.
Andy Gibson from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said wood pigeons usually migrate to France or Spain during the winter, but warmer weather makes them more likely to stay in the UK.
“It isn’t just about moving the nest; you are killing the eggs, you are killing the chicks [if you disturb it],” he said.
“In a month, the eggs will have hatched. A bit more time and the chicks will have fledged, and then you can take it down. And next year’s plans for Christmas may include removing the Christmas tree before June.”
Officials have revealed why the Christmas tree is still up in the centre of Beverley six months after it should have been taken down.
The tree in Wednesday Market was put up last November to celebrate the festive season and was scheduled for removal after the 12th night. But with summer in full swing, the tree remains in place; its once-green foliage now turned an autumnal copper colour.
Pigeon’s Roost Keeps Town in Holiday Spirit
Now, Beverley Town Council had revealed how a wood pigeon began nesting in the tree shortly before it was due to be taken down. That left local officials with an unusual dilemma.
“As time has passed, the once green needles of the tree are now copper in colour, but remarkably very few have fallen off, so it is still thick with foliage. However, because people have been understandably asking the Town Council why we have not removed it, notices have been placed on the tree explaining the situation”.
Under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Function 1981, it is against the law to intentionally clasp, damage or fall the nest of any wild bird time it is in use or being built. The Town Council is working with East Riding Council to monitor the situation and remove the tree once it is satisfied that the nest is no longer in use.