Nesting dove means the Christmas tree stays up until chicks are hatched

    Paddock Wood Christmas Tree

    Residents of Paddock Wood are eagerly awaiting the birth of some baby doves over the coming few weeks – so they can take down the town’s Christmas tree.

    Council workers were ready to remove the 25-ft fir at the end of the festive season, only to discover that a collared dove was nesting in the branches with her eggs.

    Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to disturb a wild bird and carries up to £5,000 in fines or a jail sentence of six months.

    All of which means the council must wait until the chicks hatch before removing the tree from the spot normally reserved for the town’s flagpole.

    And just in case someone might be tempted to encourage the dove to move on, ‘big brother’ is watching.

    Town council chair Cllr Sarah Hamilton said: “Residents were worried at first that all the attention would mean that someone would try and interfere with the nest. But there are cameras watching it and people have been very supportive over the bird.”

    She said the council had received advice from an ornithological expert on how to handle the dove, but she added that nothing would be done until the bird’s chicks had hatched sometime in February.

    “I think it’s just a nice story and having the tree here with the dove has kept the festive good will in the town.”

    THE COLLARED DOVE
    (Streptopelia decaocto) Not a migratory bird but can be found throughout the world. Most nest within half a mile of inhabited buildings to take advantage of the abundant food. Distinctively smaller than a wood pigeon but slightly larger than a turtledove.