Date: April 1st, 2010
To provide the best home for wild birds in your area, be sure to have a clean nesting box ready for new guests each nesting season. Each year around October, after the nesting season has drawn to a close, remove old nesting material from your box. If your nest box isn’t cleaned out by this time, new guests will usually start building their new nest on top of the old material. This stacking of old and new nests will make eggs and young baby birds more vulnerable to predators, as the new stacked nest will be elevated towards the round opening of the box.
Once you have removed any old nests, other accumulated debris should be cleaned out (twigs, old wasp nests, eggshells, etc). A dilute bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) can then be used to wipe down the insides of the nesting box. This solution will eliminate parasites and reduce the risk of pests returning to the box during the following nesting season. By performing this cleaning routine in the fall, you will make your birdhouse available for winter-roosting by bluebirds and other cavity nesters.
In order to attract the most birdhouse activity, you should check your nest box weekly to observe the progress inside. Always use care when opening, observing, and cleaning your birdhouse, as even small movements can disrupt the birds’ habitat. If you notice wasps becoming a frequent problem, coat the roof of your birdhouse with candle wax, as this will make it more difficult for the insects to attach their nests to the top of the box. Lastly, during late February or early March, clean out your nest box a second time to be sure that mouse nests and debris from winter-roosting birds do not preclude bluebird nesting in the spring.
If you have any further questions regarding bird house care, email me at AskMax@CountryMax.com, or visit your local CountryMax store today!
Additional sources: “Give Bluebirds A Helping Hand,” by Stephen W. Kress; Audubon