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Fall Task: Clean Out Birdhouses

Opening a birdhouse

Why it’s important to clean birdhouses

Cleaning out the birdhouses in your yard is one way to protect your backyard birds from pests and disease while making your birdhouses more attractive for new nesting birds. The fall clean up is very important. Dirty birdhouses can harbor rodents, insects, feather mites and bacteria that can spread disease to nesting birds and their young.

When to clean birdhouses

I clean out my birdhouses in the fall. Then I leave some open to discourage the mice from nesting in there over the winter. I do leave a few closed up to provide a warm roosting boxes for birds, like chickadees. I do check and clean again in the spring before nesting season, in case some mice had taken up residency over the winter.

Supplies

Get your supplies ready before you start cleaning. You’ll need:

  1. some rubber gloves to wear
  2. birdhouse cleaner or bleach to kill the germs
  3. an unused toothbrush (good for cleaning the corners and holes)
  4. a toothpick to open up any clogged ventilation or drainage holes.

Procedure

It’s easiest if you can take the birdhouse down to clean. This is also a good time to make any repairs, such as loose hinges, protruding nails, or chipped wood. If other birds or mice have enlarged the entrance hole, now’s the best time to repair it.

  1. Remove any remaining nesting materials and any unhatched eggs and scrape off any remaining organic material.
  2. Use a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. I find it easiest to put into a spray bottle.
  3. Scrub the inside of the birdhouse well, getting in to the corners with the toothbrush.
  4. Then rinse out the house thoroughly with water.
  5. I like to leave the house open and in the sun for a few days before remounting.

By Guest Contributor MELISSA BLOCK

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