Birdhouse Maintenance

Most of the tips in this section are optional. There really isn’t much to do once you’ve put the right birdhouse in the right place.

Birdhouse Hygiene: If you have the time and the inclination, it is good to clean out a birdhouse a day or two after you see the young leave the nest. It is likely that the parents will return to raise a second brood later in the summer and a clean house is a healthier house. Sparrows often have three broods over a season, and wrens almost always have two broods. While the mid-season cleaning is optional, cleaning out the birdhouse each year in the fall or early winter is essential. It prevents the inevitable pest population from overwintering and endangering the new baby birds next spring.

Winter Storage: While many homeowners leave their birdhouses up year round, wooden houses will definitely last longer stored indoors over the winter. With this in mind use a mounting system that permits easy installation and removal each season.

Interior Decoration Tricks: Some songbirds such as chickadees and woodpeckers like a house to be filled with wood chips or sawdust so they can sort of "dig out" their own cavity. Also, a good optional protective measure is to sprinkle a bit of diatomaceous earth (an insecticide available at garden centers) on the bottom of a new birdhouse or in a newly cleaned house. Birds are not the tidiest of housekeepers and fledglings can generate an amazing amount of droppings both in and around the nest. These droppings encourage grubs to thrive. They present a health danger to the fledglings. Diatomaceous earth, while perfectly safe for the birds, scratches the carapace of insect grubs and causes them to dehydrate and die.

see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy