Bird Watcher's General Store

“A Cape Cod Destination Icon For 40 Years”

Clean Out Nesting Boxes


Dear Bird Folks,

I have birds nesting in my birdhouse. I have always heard that you should clean the boxes out after the birds have finished nesting. Why should I do all the work, can’t the birds take care of their own birdhouse?

Jim, Dennis


Dear Jim,

All the work? You have to do all the work? Let’s think about it for a minute. This little 2 ounce bird gathers material and builds a nest without the use of blueprints, tools or hands. Then it must incubate the eggs for days on end, just sitting in a dark box with no books, TV or video games to help pass the tme. When the eggs hatch, the parent bird has to hunt and capture insects (the same insects that you also complain about) to feed to its young birds. Each baby bird must be fed a zillion times a day. So if there are four or five young birds in the nest, that’s…well, you do the math. Finally, the young birds fly away but the parents still have to continue to feed them and show them how to find food on their own.

After all that, you want them to come back to the birdhouse and pick up a little? I have company that doesn’t even clean up after themselves and they don’t even help out by eating annoying insects.

Old birds’ nests can be a breeding ground for mites and parasites that could be harmful to a newly hatched chick. Also, many times, a bird that is looking for a nest site will not choose a box that has an old nest in it. They may think that the nest box is already taken and move on. So clean them out, James, it could save the baby birds and it may get you more than one nest per season. And then you are done with that, you can come over to my house and pick up after my company.