Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 5:27 pm
Location: Michigan

Bluebird house fall cleaning - to do or not to do?

A pair of bluebirds nested in my bluebird house for the first time this summer... so cool. The instructions that came with the box said since they have several broods each year, clean it out between groups. Well, I have pretty much left them alone, and enjoyed the occasional sightings of bluebirds. This afternoon, I noticed there are still bluebirds living there! Do bluebirds go south for the winter? When do they leave? Should I clean the box or just leave it alone for the winter? :?

Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:20 am
Location: Zone 7 Texas

We are in Northern Tx. We have three bird boxes. For the last two years a pair has made thier selfs at home here. They mate here in April, May, June, July and August. It is fantastic to see how they care for thier young. From Feeding to cleaning out nest. All day long. We have a bird bath. They love baths. This year they have stayed around thier territory and two of thier babies have stayed also. I guess you guessed they are my favorite birds.

Full Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:06 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Hello all
I am in Wisconsin and we have three birdhouses in the back yard. Is cleaning out the houses just done to prevent disease?

I haven't cleaned mine in a few years and notice how they are filled with finch type birds so obviously I will have to wait to do any cleaning.

I just always think that birds find empty nests in the wild and use them without anyone cleaning them so.....

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

" A dirty bird house is less attractive to backyard birds. Dirty bird houses can also harbor rodents, insects, feather mites, fungus and bacteria that can spread disease to nesting birds. Cleaning a bird house minimizes these hazards and makes the home more attractive to nesting birds, and a clean bird house encourages reuse with either the same bird family or additional birds looking for suitable nesting sites." https://birding.about.com/od/birdhouses/a/How-To-Clean-A-Bird-House.htm

Most natural nesting sites are less sealed up than birdhouses, so not as likely to accumulate fungus, bacteria, etc.

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Posts: 30585
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

I don't go soaking in bleach water, etc. but I do inspect them when they are empty of nesting birds during the cold months for wasp nests and ant occupation because either will prevent the birds from accepting the nest box. To do that, you do have to take out the nesting materials to some extent. If there are ants, I evict them then "bomb" the interior with horticultural grade diatomaceous earth.

One year, house sparrows took over one of the nest boxes and filled it with trash -- I mean candy wrappers, bits of tattered plastic grocery bags, orange hay baling string, etc. -- I don't even know where they found them all :roll: A house wren won back the nest box and immediately emptied it of all the garbage. I was astounded by the amount of trash I found under the tree -- in fact, at first I thought the neighbor's kids for inexplicable reason decided to play a prank and trashed my yard. :shock: :lol:

Sometimes, in cleaning out the previous nest, you will find things that seem unsuited/dangerous for the baby birds. I tsk, tsk, and remember when my kids were babies and I had to "childproof" the house... And wonder what those parent birds were thinking! :wink:

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