Learn how, why, and when to clean out birdhouses and nesting boxes to help provide a safe and nurturing home for birds and their young ones. Also find 5 ways to create a cleanout door. If you have made the effort to build a birdhouse or nesting box for your yard or garden, it is probably because you care for birds. But having a birdhouse is not enough. To keep it filled with guests, you will want to provide them with a hospitable environment. This means keeping their nesting area tidy and free of pests, insects, and other disease-spreading pathogens. Let us explore how and why to clean your birdhouses.
5 Easy Birdhouse Cleanout Door Ideas
When creating a birdhouse always consider adding an access door for cleaning. Below are five ways to add a cleanout door to your birdhouse.
Option 1: Use Hanger Bolts (Screw / Bolt Combination).
Cut one of the side walls into two pieces. Fasten one piece permanently using regular screws. Fasten the second piece (cleanout door) using hanger bolts.
Hanger bolts have lag screw threads on one end for going into wood and machine screw threads on the other end. The lag screw threads go into the wood, and the machine screws and a wing-nut are used to attach the cleanout door.
Option 2: Drill Hole / Electrical Box Cover.
Drill a 3″ to 3.5″ (7.6cm to 9cm) access opening using a hole saw. I personally wear x-large gloves and I can fit my hand through a 3″ (7.6cm) hole. Next use screws to attach an electrical box flat cover. Make sure to install the cover so that it locks into place when mounted in the correct orientation.
Option 3: Remove Screws.
Attach the roof or sides of your birdhouse with just screws. To access or cleanout your birdhouse, simply remove some screws.
Option 4: Use Bolts and Piece of Wood.
Use a combination of wood, bolts, and wing-nuts to create a cleanout door.
Option 5: Use a Hinge and Barrel Bolt.
Use a combination of a hinge and latch (e.g., a barrel bolt) to create a cleanout door.
Why You Should Clean Your Bird House.
First off, a dirty birdhouse is not just unattractive for you but also to birds. If you would like to harbor a bird family for the breeding season, you will want to provide a safe and nurturing home for them. Birds may decide to find another nest for their young ones if they find the environment unsuitable for nesting.
If you fail to clean your birdhouse after previous occupants have vacated it, new nesting birds may be exposed to dangerous parasites and diseases. Fleas, insects and other pathogens remain in the birdhouse long after it has been abandoned, and they can survive long enough to infest young birds that hatch the following season.
Your birdhouse may even be harboring bacteria like the Clostridium botulinum, which can end up being fatal to birds. Some pathogens, like the Chlamydophila psittaci may latch on to bird feathers and prove harmful to their human caretakers too.
Knowing When to Clean a Nesting Box.
It is usually wise to clean the birdhouse after the breeding season is over, since most birds only breed once every spring. However, before you do, you should knock lightly on the side of the birdhouse and listen for answering squeaks and sounds. If you do hear birds inside, give them at least a week to move out.
How to Clean a Birdhouse Efficiently.
Follow these easy steps to clean out your birdhouse.
- Wear gloves before starting the cleaning process to keep yourself safe from bacteria and parasites.
- Unscrew or open up your birdhouse completely. It helps if you have already installed built-in hinges for easy cleaning.
- Clean out all previous nesting material and dispose of it in a plastic bag to prevent bugs and pathogens from spreading in the air.
- Use boiling hot water to scrub every corner and crevice of the birdhouse. You can also use a diluted bleaching solution for efficiently wiping out all unwanted parasites. Make sure to clean the entrance and ventilation holes.
- Douse your birdhouse with water if you have chosen to use bleach to remove all traces of the chemical.
- Sun-dry your birdhouse for at least a day as extra precaution against chemicals.
- Add a layer of clean hay or wood shavings to make the environment seem more welcoming to birds.
See How to Hang a Birdhouse for the recommended mounting height for various birds. Cleaning your birdhouse after every breeding season will make its new occupants feel safe and welcomed, which in turn will help you sustain bird families generation after generation!
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