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Old 02-20-2011, 12:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Should I remove the old nests from my birdhouses?

I have 1/2 dozen simple (same design) birdhouses that are used by bluebirds, chikadees and titmouses. Each has last years nest inside that fills the box about 1/2 way to the hole. They nests are still low enough that I can't touch them through the hole or see them.

I meant to clean them out but today I see the bluebirds and chikadees are visiting all the boxes and some are carrying grass inside.

Should I clean them out today or just leave them alone?

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Old 02-20-2011, 12:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I clean mine out in the fall each year. Just in case there are dead young inside as the birds will not nest if there are remains. I mad mine so the roofs are hinged with a magnet to keep them closed. makes it easy to clean out.
Of course having to go twenty feet up a ladder to do it, is the hard part.
Next ones I build will have trap door floors so all I will have to do is let the bottoms drop and the stuff should just fall out.

And you already have birds beginning to nest? 12 degrees here this morning. No nesting going on up here.....
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Mine are on condiut about 8 feet high and the bottoms are held on with 2 wood screws. I don't think there are any corpses inside. It's been high 60's low 70's here for a few days and the birds are starting to get active again. Winter is not over yet. A few bulbs are sprouting but everything else is still quite dead.

Do the birds prefer to build the whole nest over again each year if the old one is clean?

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Old 02-20-2011, 12:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think they like clean houses in the spring so I try to clean mine over the winter.
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Man I can't even keep my own house clean let along fiddle with a #*&^$@ bird house...
They just better be thankful that the wife keeps filling the bird seed thingy so they have something to crap on my car and truck with!
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think they like clean houses in the spring so I try to clean mine over the winter.
That was my plan but it warmed up suddenly and now the birds are looking to move in.
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Old 02-20-2011, 01:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Well...Gotta figure if they are putting grass in they don;t mind what is inside. We have a few old nests under the high deck where I work. The Robins use the old nests that are on top of the carrying beam for the deck. I can see them through the first floor windows. But just as it gets warm people start showing up and using the decks, so the birds take off. we have seen several eggs go still from that.
I noticed just the other day that a squirrel has made the entrance to one of my bird houses about 4" round now. Nibbled the hole so it could get in and out. If I build any more houses I think I will have to put a metal plate with the hole in it so they can't chew them open anymore. I thought I got that squirrel with the pellet gun a while back.....
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I check them but have never cleaned any out. The birds will pull material out and replace it from time to time. Our bird book claims it's not necessary to clean out nesting boxes unless it is infected with bees or mites or dead birds.
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I put FFR aluminum plates on all of mine after getting 3 of them reamed out last season... We feed the freakin squirles.

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Old 02-20-2011, 02:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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So Rod....How would you know if they were infected with anything if you don't clean them out?...LOL. I think the birds know what to do. If you don't see any using, the bird house, I'd clean it just to make sure. If they are using it, it must be in move in condition. Sometimes I even leave some old straw around for them to use, if I have some left from doing any grass seeding.

I was thinking about doing a web cam thing this spring. If i can get it to work....
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Old 02-20-2011, 03:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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It is definetely warming up quite a bit here Greg. We need to plan sometime to meet halfway between Knox and Chatt and get together for a drive and/or lunch sometime before I move. Always wanted a pic of your car and mine next to each other.

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Old 02-20-2011, 04:04 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I clean my purple martin house out each fall, but only because I read that it should be done. The others I just leave and we'll see if they come back (this will be my first spring in the new house).

Cory, I'm 3 for 3 on the squirrels with my pellet gun when I see them on the bird feeders. I never saw a squirrel in my backyard until I started filling the bird feeders. One huge gray and two smaller brownish squirrels with shorter tails (not chipmonks, I won't shoot them). Are the brown ones ground squirrels?
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Old 02-20-2011, 05:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:06 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Well...Gotta figure if they are putting grass in they don;t mind what is inside. We have a few old nests under the high deck where I work. The Robins use the old nests that are on top of the carrying beam for the deck. I can see them through the first floor windows. But just as it gets warm people start showing up and using the decks, so the birds take off. we have seen several eggs go still from that.
I noticed just the other day that a squirrel has made the entrance to one of my bird houses about 4" round now. Nibbled the hole so it could get in and out. If I build any more houses I think I will have to put a metal plate with the hole in it so they can't chew them open anymore. I thought I got that squirrel with the pellet gun a while back.....
I have the exact same problem here. I must have at least 10-12 houses out and nearly every single one has had the hole chewed out by a freaking squirrel. I got the Gammo pellet rifle out last year and probably killed 15-20 of those "tree rats" but they are still here in high numbers. I'm wondering if it's too late to fix the bird houses? The bluebirds didn't seem to nest in the one or two I did fixed with metal plates. I wonder if they don't like them because it's hard to get a grip in the metal? Bluebirds like a specific sized hole (5/8" I think) and no perch. Cory and Greg....did the bluebirds nest in the houses you fixed with metal?

As far as cleaning out the houses, I don't think the birds care either way. The one house we have on our porch gets 2-3 "litters" of bluebirds every year and never gets cleaned out. Some of my other houses have never been used by the birds.....I think bluebirds are pretty fussy about where their nests are located.
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:28 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Well I haven't done the metal thing yet. So now you have me wondering. How about a metal ring inside the hole? Instead of putting metal outside the hole?
Gotta be something that will stop them from making it bigger. I can't stand on my porch all day waiting to pick off squirrels.
We have the small tailed squirrels up here. They are red squirrels. Those are the most destructive ones. They will get into your engine bay and chew wires. First ones I shoot in the spring. But they are much quicker and smaller target than the grays.......
BTW I really do like all animals....except squirrels.
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:28 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I added metal on 2 of the houses last Spring. Blubirds nested in one and Titmouse (Titmice?) in the other. Chickadees used 2 of the others.

I cleaned them all out yesterday and they had well build nests 4-5" tall consisting of pine needles and twigs. No surprises inside.

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Old 02-21-2011, 01:20 PM   #17 (permalink)
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BTW I really do like all animals....except squirrels.
had a 300lb trucker lady from the mtns of Virginia buy some truck parts from us
when she saw our pet ground hog under the back parts shed she just said
" them are good eatin' but I like squirrels better'
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Old 02-21-2011, 04:05 PM   #18 (permalink)
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One huge gray and two smaller brownish squirrels with shorter tails (not chipmonks, I won't shoot them). Are the brown ones ground squirrels?
The grey one is an introduced species, and considered a pest, as it competes for forage/territory, with the native American Red Squirrel, which is likely what the smaller brownish ones were.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Red_Squirrel
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Old 02-21-2011, 07:16 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Yeah that's them. I got a few around my house. Fast little suckers. They never stop either. Like they are hopped on acid or something. But when they do see you and sit on a branch they just bark out at you. Pretty loud too.
If they get near or in your car you better be prepared to do battle. The hood on my wife's Rav4 is full of acorns from those things trying to use her car as storage. How they get into some of the holes in her hood is beyond me. I think they just shove the nuts into the holes like a piggy bank. Every time I raise the hood to check the oil or add washer fluid I hear them rolling around in there and I have no idea how to get them out.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:55 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Those are the ones. This morning I watched two fighting with two crows over some kind of dead thing in the driveway. One crow was in a tree while the other ate. One squirrel would run around the crow until it chased him, then the other would eat. I swear the squirrels ate better than the crows! My 66 Bronco in parked in the driveway and those little bastages better stay away.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:03 PM   #21 (permalink)
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We leave our dryer lint out and the birds gather it all for nests. Just a couple of bird houses and I have to clean them out to get rid of the hornet/wasp nests that form after the birds leave each year.

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Old 02-21-2011, 10:41 PM   #22 (permalink)
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On a somewhat related subject, should I sell my kids' bedroom furniture before they come home again?
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Old 02-22-2011, 12:02 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Yep. Change the locks on the doors as well.

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Old 02-22-2011, 08:13 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I check them but have never cleaned any out. The birds will pull material out and replace it from time to time. Our bird book claims it's not necessary to clean out nesting boxes unless it is infected with bees or mites or dead birds.
The mite thing is a good reason.I left old ones and the mites
went crazy and killed many birds
All birds have mites ,but when the mite population gets insane,they can get into your home by the thousands, you won't see them ,but you will feel them.
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:25 PM   #25 (permalink)
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had a 300lb trucker lady from the mtns of Virginia buy some truck parts from us
when she saw our pet ground hog under the back parts shed she just said
" them are good eatin' but I like squirrels better'
Don't know about ground hogs, but squirrels are excellent eating.fun to hunt too...
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:55 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Old 02-23-2011, 02:03 AM   #27 (permalink)
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So who cleans out the bird nests in the wild?
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:40 AM   #28 (permalink)
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had a 300lb trucker lady from the mtns of Virginia buy some truck parts from us
when she saw our pet ground hog under the back parts shed she just said
" them are good eatin' but I like squirrels better'
I grew up in Upstate NY (Cooperstown) and hunted groundhogs (called woodchucks up north) and many of the old timers (yea there are just as many redneck in NY as there are in Georgia) used to eat them all the time. This guy the worked for my dad asked me to bring him all the young ones (like 1/2 grown) I shot and he would take them home and his mom would prepare them for a nice family dinner.
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Old 02-25-2011, 02:32 PM   #29 (permalink)
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On a somewhat related subject, should I sell my kids' bedroom furniture before they come home again?
That and even changing the locks won't work..

Best thing is to move away, and don't leave any forwarding address..

Re the mites.. Several years ago a robin had builr a nest in the rafters of our carport. One day a fledgling bird which I guessed was learning to fly, was found sitting on the carport floor. I picked it up and put it back up in the nest, before our cat could pounce on it. I soon realized why thar young bird had left the nest. My hands and arms had thousands of mites crawling on them I immediately hosed them off.
I could see how they could soon kill young birds..
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Old 02-25-2011, 08:14 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Next year I'm selling the nests to the Chinese restaurant down the street.

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