If you’re not a dog or a cat person, you like the more challenging pets. Not all areas are suitable for birds, so you might have found your way around this by placing one or more birdhouses in your garden or backyard.
There is nothing more rewarding for bird lovers than seeing wild birds using their birdboxes to eat, sleep, and nest in. Do you have to clean out birdhouses?
Cleaning out your birdhouses is a necessary and crucial way of maintaining your birdhouses correctly, which will increase the number of birds occupying them and reduce any chances of parasite problems. Clean birdhouses will improve occupant birds’ health and keep them functional for much longer.
Imagine living in a filthy house, with your food and bedding occupying every nook and cranny. This doesn’t sound pleasant or livable to any human being, and this is precisely the case for the birdboxes in your garden or backyard.
Go with us on a journey where we discuss when you can clean out birdhouses, whether it is necessary, and why it is essential!
Do You Need to Clean Out Birdhouses?
The upkeep of your birdhouses plays a very important step when you want to attract more birds and maintain their optimal health.
Old and unclean nests can contain mites, as well as other harmful bacteria. If you don’t properly clean out your birdhouses before each nesting season, the chances of diseases spreading to the birds will increase as each of them inhabits or visit the house.
On top of this, still having an old nest present may discourage the new birds from choosing the birdhouse to nest in.
In their natural habits, birds often have to deal with other birds’ old nesting material that is already present where they want to make their nests. This makes the nest selection much different when you compare it to your cute artificial nesting boxes.
With a finite of natural nesting places to choose from, most birds don’t have the option to be too greedy about where they want to camp. Birds will often reuse some successful natural cavities, as constructing a nest from scratch will require some energy and time.
However, the threat of mites, larvae, and bacteria may act as a strong deterrent. With most of these birds not having the option to be very picky with their nesting selection, birds such as the Eastern Bluebird will build their nests on top of another bird’s old nest if they have no alternative options.
When it comes to your birdhouses, they act like additional nest sites for birds to choose from. As well constructed as your birdhouse may be, they are still not immune to harmful parasites and bacteria, and this is why it is vital that you clean them out, as this can deter some birds from using yours.
However, some birds have adapted so well that they can cope with these parasites and bacteria, so whether or not you clean out your birdhouse may not even have an impact on whether or not they will occupy it.
When Do You Clean Out Bird Houses?
It is advised that you thoroughly clean out your birdhouses a minimum of once every year. You should clean out a nest before the nesting season and after every brood has fledged. Keeping your birdhouses clean is essential for being nesting birds’ perfect host.
This is why you should always keep in mind the interior of a nesting box. You should be able to access the interior of a birdhouse to clean it correctly.
As many species of cavity-nesting birds have more than only one brood, you should clean out the birdhouse after each brood.
Also, try to monitor the birdhouses for ants, wasps, blowflies, and mice infestations, as well as any other unwelcome guests that could cause potential harm to the nestlings.
Do Birds Clean Out Bird Houses?
Although it is advised that you clean your birdhouse out once a year, it may not be completely necessary. More often, birds will clean it out themselves, it would help if you lend them a kind helping hand.
For example, Male House Wrens clean out their old nesting material between clutches, essentially doing the job for you!
There are also several other reasons why birds will clean out their nests. Let’s take a closer look:
Removing Fecal Sacs
All baby birds produce fecal sacs when they relieve themselves from their eggs. Fortunately, these fecal sacs are very easy to move, which makes the mother bird possible to get rid of them if it is necessary.
Most mother birds will feed their babies and remove these sacs very quickly. The primary goal for this is to ensure that predators don’t smell these fecal sacs, which can cause them to lurk around, putting the babies in danger.
As a result, the mother birds will clean their nests whenever they get the chance to get around to it.
Mother nests won’t clean other elements that can be found inside the nest unless it is clearly preventing their babies from freely moving around.
Avoiding the Attraction of Predators
When a mother bird needs to prevent any attacks that could place its babies in danger, it will clean out its nests.
If you’re thinking of an average predator, you know that they always rely on their smell and sight to hunt down their prey. Most hunting animals will want to look for these scents to pick up where their potential target is located successfully.
All types of birds will practice this method, as it is in their nature to make sure their young always remains safe and sound.
This can only happen if a mother bird can mask the odor present inside the nest. To do this, they will need to get rid of any fecal sacs that have been produced by their babies.
Predators are always on the prowl when they want to find prey, including sniffing fecal matter from birds. This is why mother birds need to get rid of these fecal sacs as quickly as they can.
If these fecal sacs remain inside the nest for extended periods, the odor will add up eventually. Once sac might be impossible to pick up, but several sacs can do a lot of damage, putting the entire nest in danger.
Preventing Any Food From Spoilage
Usually, this isn’t the top priority on a mother bird’s list, but it does matter a lot. Any source of food that needs to go towards the babies will get ruined if the nest is messy or dirty. A mother bird needs to provide her bird with as much food as she possibly can.
This allows them to grow and continue their circle of life. If the food gets spoiled or rotten, it could pose a significant danger to the baby birds in the nest. This is another reason why mother birds will clean up their nests once in a while.
How to Correctly Clean Your Birdhouse
As we mentioned, the interior parts of your birdhouse can play a significant role in whether or not you can clean it effectively. When it is time to clean your birdhouse after the fledging have left, you can do it by following only a few simple steps:
Step 1: Open the Door and Remove Debris and Nesting
Open the clean-out door or entrance of the birdhouse and clean out any debris or old nesting material. It is advised to wear rubber household gloves or your usual garden gloves for this task, as the old nesting material or birdhouse can contain mites and other harmful bacteria.
Step 2: Inspect the Birdhouse
After you have cleaned the birdhouse of any remaining materials, you need to check for any signs of mold. If your birdhouse shows some mold, you can clean it very effectively by using a diluted bleach solution or unscented dishwashing soap.
Mix your cleaning solutions well with warm water. These solutions will keep the mold from spreading and causing significant damage to your birdhouse.
If you do not see any signs of mold or bacterial growth, it would still be a good idea to follow this step. This step will effectively prevent the spread of disease and keep any young birds healthy in the nest brooding season.
A quick scrub will help to stop any mold that may not be visible yet and help to keep parasites and bacteria in check that could pose potential harm to birds.
Step 3: Inspect Birdhouse for Any Severe Damages
After completing the whole cleaning process, you need to inspect your house for further damages. If you notice a few small cracks, it’s not the end of the world, and your birdhouse is still fully functional.
However, if you want to take some extra precautions to prevent any damage in the future, you can fill some of the larger cracks with a wood sealant.
Check all the screws and make sure each one is adequately tightened.
Remember, birds are not very picky animals, and they will still use a birdhouse that is not perfect, but you want to make sure their house is as safe as possible.
Step 4: Let the Birdhouse Dry Thoroughly After Cleaning
After washing and rinsing the birdhouse and checking for any damages, it would be best to keep the door open for a short period and let any liquids air dry thoroughly before closing. Any moisture could cause the wood to develop mold and rot.
Cleaning your backyard or garden birdhouses is the best way to encourage birds to use them each nesting season. If you do it correctly, you will hear baby birds chirping from your porch, with mother birds flying and returning with food for their young.
Baby birds are especially prone to bacteria and parasites, and by cleaning your birdhouses, you will be helping to make the mother bird’s job much easier, as they already have enough on their plate!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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