Do birdhouses need to be cleaned out? I hear you asking.
That is a really good question.
It’s also not as simple to respond to as a yes or no question.
You set up your birdhouse at the beginning of the season to make it cozy and inviting for the backyard birds.
After that, breeding season arrives.
You like seeing your feathered buddies rear their young and lay eggs.
When that moment arrives, the tiny fledglings must extend their wings and fly.
You now have an empty nest on your hands, though, much like when your children moved out and went off to college.
And now you’re left debating if you should clean up the mess that was left behind.
You do want fresh tenants, after all.
They won’t be pleased with the abandoned mess left by the people who came before them, for sure.
It’s not quite that simple, though.
You might be surprised to learn that there is a controversy surrounding whether or not you should clean out your birdhouses in the world of bird watching.
So what’s the point?
This post will walk you through the benefits of cleaning out your birdhouse.
That’s not all, though. Let’s examine various justifications why you shouldn’t clean your birdhouses.
You may then choose wisely for your backyard birds.
So let’s get started.
To Save For Later
4 Reasons you should clean your Birdhouse
1. Prevent Disease
This is a significant issue.
Getting rid of any disease is the main reason you should clean out your birdhouse. There could have been some nasty things left by the previous bird tenant.
We’re referring to ectoparasites such as:
They easily spread disease, which is harmful for your bird visits.
The following illnesses are primarily spread through birdhouses:
- A bird flu
The disease carriers can be eliminated by removing outdated nesting materials. The risk of being caught by fresh birds will then decrease.
2. Discourage Predators
Some birds, like bluebirds, are really sluggish and may just construct a new nest on top of an existing one.
If you don’t clean it up, the mess will only pile up high, like in a teenager’s room.
The issue with this is that the old nest will serve as the new nest’s height foundation.
Thus, the new nest will be located higher in the box.
So what’s the problem?
The eggs are more exposed to the aperture of a nest box when the nest is higher up in the birdhouse.
You guessed it, too.
Predators have unrestricted access to the interior of the box, giving them the opportunity to rob the nest’s eggs.
3. Attract New birds
In some places, competition for nesting sites can be severe.
This implies that finding a suitable location for birds to nest may be more difficult if all the natural nesting cavities are occupied.
A bird will probably look elsewhere if a location already has an existing nest. This is a healthy strategy to keep kids from contracting the unpleasant diseases we were discussing.
A bird that is having trouble finding a suitable nesting spot may find your nest box to be much more enticing if it is clean.
It could make a difference in whether your birdhouse is occupied during the breeding season if you remove the nest of a previous occupant.
4. Prevent Rodents
It’s crucial to keep in mind that birdhouses appeal to more than simply birds.
You’ll discover that small creatures like mice or rats can use them as convenient nesting places.
You might think it’s a smart idea to use your birdhouse for both animals and birds.
But hold on!
You should avoid attracting rodents to your birdhouses, in my opinion.
Rodents, on the other hand, spread many diseases that, if they congregate near the birdhouse, can be fatal to birds.
Additionally, illnesses like Lyme disease and the Hantavirus can be harmful to your health.
Their urine contains these viruses. And let me add that rats are just as proud of their homes as birds. The box will be covered in urination!
A birdhouse that has recently been inhabited by mice is likely to discourage birds from building a nest there.
In the winter, you’ll notice that birds begin to look for suitable nesting locations. Rodents are most likely to be nesting in your box at this time of year.
Surprise, too! There is little doubt that a bird won’t nurture its young in your birdhouse if it discovers a large rodent inside.
Your nesting birds’ nests may be plundered in the summer if you attract rats to your birdhouse.
Over the winter, keeping your birdhouses clean will prevent mice and rats from making their homes there.
An effective baffle (like this one) is great depending on where your birdhouse is situated. Rodents won’t be able to enter your birdhouse, but it won’t stop birds from exploring it.
4 reason you shouldn’t clean out your birdhouse
Let’s now examine several justifications for not cleaning your birdhouses.
1. Save energy
The majority of birds prefer to build new nests rather than reuse old ones.
But hold on. This does not imply that a tidy nesting location will draw in new birds.
Finding the right materials takes a lot of work, and it takes time to create a new nest.
Many of these birds will actually tear down the previous nest in order to construct their new nest, as you’ll find.
This method is used by birds to conserve time and energy, two things they desperately require during the breeding season.
What else? A prior nest there may also serve as a social cue to birds indicating that it is a desirable location for nesting and raising offspring.
2. Adaptive behaviors
So, we are aware that some birds will merely construct a new nest on top of an existing one.
However, some of these species have evolved to remove old nests by themselves.
It is believed that this action is a means for birds to naturally get rid of parasites and safeguard their future eggs.
Male wrens prefer to thoroughly clean nests in between broods. The heavy job is done for you, in other words.
They also have other tricks under their sleeves in addition to this.
Spider “nests” have been reported to be added to wrens’ own nests. The spider eggs have plenty of mites to eat once they hatch, so the wren eggs stay healthy.
3. Trust Mother Nature
You must keep in mind that your yard is a miniature ecosystem.
Therefore, what occurs with one species usually benefits another.
In this instance, keeping abandoned nests within your birdhouses will benefit insects like wasps. These insects can aid in the elimination of many disease-carrying parasites that have been left behind in a nest.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that tampering with nature isn’t always advantageous.
Really, everything just comes down to perception.
Indeed, birds can get sick from parasites. Thus, only the toughest chicks will endure.
However, illnesses also contribute to the regulation of the bird population.
If you have a non-native species like house sparrows nesting in your birdhouse, it might not necessarily be a bad thing.
Birdhouses are useful for more than just birds.
We discussed how crucial it is to make an effort to keep rats away from your birdhouse.
What about the advantages for insects, though?
A birdhouse attracts insects, and an old nest contains:
These insects will benefit from weather protection and the warmth of a constructed nest. Additionally, unlike in your home, they won’t be bothered.
When these insects have a place to live, they are more likely to survive and produce a plentiful food source for the birds in the spring.
The advantages are:
- assisting in the reduction of disease
- improving nesting locations
- inhibits disease-carrying rodents and predators.
– Remove all old nesting material and scrape out any feces or clumped matter. … A bird’s ailment is indeed caused by a parasite. As a result, only the toughest young females will survive.
Diseases, on the other hand, also contribute to the regulation of the bird population.
- If you have a nesting pair of house sparrows—a non-native species—in your birdhouse, that might not necessarily be a negative thing.
- Not just birds benefit from birdhouses.
- Trying to keep rodents away from your birdhouse is important, as we discussed.