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Birdhouse Maintenance (Why, When, and How)

Birdhouse Maintenance (Why, When, and How)
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Your birdhouse project may have been hanging in your backyard for quite some time. After months of exposure to the environment, the little home will probably require some maintenance.

If you leave a birdhouse outside for too long, it may not attract as many birds due to the lack of care.

That’s why birdhouse maintenance is crucial. That being said, unclean little homes can become a breeding ground for parasite and bacterial growth, which can be harmful to the small critters.

Stick around if you’re interested in learning more about why birdhouse maintenance is critical and how you can clean the little enclosure.

Reasons to Clean Your Birdhouse

After purchasing or making the birdhouse, you want to remain a gracious host by keeping it clean and welcoming for your little guests.

Here are some of the reasons why you should maintain a clean space for any incoming birds.

Pest Control

After months of neglect, a birdhouse can easily accumulate a myriad of pests. From rodents, feather mites, and insects, to bacteria and fungus, these harmful bugs will drive most birds off.

As for the birds that choose to remain, these pests can infect them with diseases, especially the hatchlings.

Apart from that, some birds actually do the work for you. House wrens, for example, have learned to adapt and clean out the old nests.

Additionally, the presence of ectoparasites or mites hasn’t deterred the species’s growth. Research conducted has shown that it may only affect the birds’ clutch size, otherwise known as the number of eggs they hatch.

Nevertheless, other species like the bluebird are a little different. Instead of cleaning out the old nests, it simply builds its own above them.

Talk about sweeping it under the rug, right?

In those birds’ cases, removing the pests is crucial to providing a healthy home for the birdies.

Avoid Predators

Cleaning the birdhouse can also lessen the risk of predators invading and swooping to take helpless hatchlings.

Now, some birds prefer making their own nests, rather than staying in old ones. Additionally, most bird species barely reuse their nests and make new ones for every batch of hatchlings they breed.

That will result in a lot of nests gathered in the tiny birdhouse, which in turn, can become visible to any incoming predators such as hawks.

When to Clean Your Birdhouse

Now that you know a few of the reasons why you should clean your birdhouse, it’s time to figure out when’s the best time to do it.

Given that there are several generations of broods that will pass your birdhouse, it would be ideal to clean after each one. In other words, after every hatchling fledges, you can clean out the old nest.

If you have a hard time tracking each brood, you can alternatively clean the birdhouse after the breeding season. This season occurs during springtime, so, you can clean during June or August.

You can also do another check-in during late summer and early fall.

How to Care for Your Birdhouse

Cleaning a birdhouse is relatively straightforward and shouldn’t take too much of your time. You can consider it as one of your garden chores apart from mowing the lawn and sweeping the yard.

That being so, check out our comprehensive guide on how you can clean the birdhouse in no time.

Step 1: Check for Any Visitors Inside

Before you jump to taking any old nests out, you want to make sure the birdhouse is empty of any hatchlings, birds, or eggs.

Checking for any residents inside can be hard since the entrance hole is tiny. You can just gently knock on the roof or sides of the box to see if anyone is home.

If you hear any cheeps or scurrying around, then you can wait a week before re-checking, since there may be a brood still inside.

On average, hatchlings take around 19 to 21 days to learn how to fly. Having said that, you may not hear noise coming from the birdhouse.

In which case, you can try glancing inside from the roof or entrance hole to double-check no one’s home. Once the birdhouse is empty, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Disassemble the Birdhouse

It would be difficult to do all the inner cleaning through a tiny hole. For that reason, you’ll want to partially take apart the birdhouse.

Be wary of any safety hazards while disassembling the birdhouse, such as chipped wood that could splinter your hand. We recommend inspecting it before removing the pieces in case you notice invasive insects such as wasps.

To open the birdhouse, you can screw off the roof area or front piece, depending on which is easier to remove.

Some birdhouses have hinged doorways and roofs, where you can easily access the interior. As you’re doing this, you may want to put on some gloves in case there are any parasites or pests.

After opening up the birdhouse, you may notice a few damaged pieces. In this case, you can find some replacements to reattach after cleaning.

Step 3: Empty the Birdhouse

If you’ve left the birdhouse for a while, you’ll notice a lot of nests accumulated. You’ll want to take all of those out while still wearing your gloves.

Apart from the interior of the bird box, check the roof for any signs of insects. The birdhouse may also be infested with feces and other debris.

Consequently, you may want to get a trash bag or compost bin and keep it next to you. You wouldn’t want to leave an infested nest lying around in your yard.

Step 4: Scrub the Birdhouse

In this step, you’ll want to get a scrubbing tool. It could be a sponge, scrub brush, or even an old toothbrush for those hard-to-reach corners.

As for the cleaning solution, get a bucket and prepare a heavily diluted solution of bleach and water. The ratio of water to bleach should be around nine to one.

You can also use unscented dishwashing liquid instead of bleach. Nevertheless, if there are signs of mold or mildew present in the birdhouse, we advise using bleach.

In addition to this, don’t mix dishwashing liquid with bleach, otherwise, you’ll create toxic fumes harmful to the birds and you.

Once your cleaning tools are ready, you just need to scrub every surface inside and outside the birdhouse. Afterward, make sure to let it fully air dry.

Step 5: Apply a Preservative Coat and Reassemble

Now that the birdhouse is all cleaned up and dried, it’s time to apply a protective layer of linseed oil. The oil will react to oxygen to create a hard layer that won’t vaporize and harm the birds.

All that’s left to do now is reassemble the birdhouse back together. Make sure all the screws are tightened.

You may also want to do one last inspection; in case you see any protruding nails or chipped wood that may hurt the birds.

If everything looks good, you can hang the birdhouse back to where it was for its next family of visitors.

Final Thoughts

Birdhouse maintenance is a small but critical outdoor task. You can clean your birdhouse after every brood’s departure or after every breeding season.

You’ll be giving the little nestlings a well-maintained and pest-free environment to live out their youth.

The birds will appreciate your work and continue to grace your backyard with their musical chirps.

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