For most gardeners the colder months bring a bit of rest, but they also bring their own share of garden-related chores. From houseplant care and fruit tree pruning, to tool sharpening and seed starting, there are lots of things to be done over the coming weeks. I’d like to add one more important task to your winter to-do list: Clean out and spruce-up ‘used’ bird houses and nest boxes. Here are five quick tips for proper bird house maintenance.
1. Remove old nesting materials from bird houses and nest boxes before each new nesting season begins.
2. Scrub out the interior of the empty box or house using a 10% bleach solution (9 parts water to 1 part bleach) and a stiff brush. Allow to thoroughly dry.
3. For unpainted boxes and houses: Apply an external coat of a natural wood preservative such as linseed oil.
For painted boxes and houses: Repaint the exterior every three to five years, or whenever a touch-up is needed.
4. Check the box’s hardware and tighten or replace any loose screws or roof panels.
5. Be sure your nest boxes and houses are back in place by the end of February. This gives male birds plenty of time to find a suitable nesting site before the breeding season begins.
What birds take up residence in your nest boxes?
Delores Lyon says
Thanks for sharing these birdhouse maintenance tips! I have actually been thinking of getting a birdhouse for my backyard, but I want to make sure that I can actually take care of it before I get it. It sounds like the biggest maintenance obstacle for me would be scrubbing out the interior — that could be hard if the opening is small! However, I could just try looking for a birdhouse with more interior access to solve the problem.
Anita Mas says
That’s true that removing old nesting materials before new birds come along is a good way to invite them. They won’t use old nests, right? I don’t really know much about birds, but I like seeing them around.
Meg Lund says
I always grew up with birdhouses around my house, and when I moved into my own house, I wanted the exterior to be the same. That being said, I appreciate all of the insight you give to properly maintain the birdhouses so that they are always in their best quality shape! Specifically, I like that you suggested applying an external coat of natural wood preservation for unpainted boxes and houses. I have a few of these around my yard, and I’m not sure if they already have this protection. I definitely thing applying another coat will ensure that they are protected and always looking their best. Thank you for sharing!
Bryce Trout says
My son makes bird houses all the time and I think that they look great in my garden. I liked that you had tips about maintaining them, because some of the older ones are starting to look pretty beat up. I am definitely going to try to apply some sort of natural oil to the ones that aren’t painted now. Thank you for the tips.
Jonathan Pound says
Growing up in the Northwest, many of my friends’ and neighbors’ families had bird houses on their property. I knew that you had to remove the old nesting material each year, but I didn’t think about the other maintenance such as preserving the wood, paint or hardware. Thanks for the tips about proper birdhouse maintenance.
RD@Wetland Management says
Very informative article.. It’s hard to maintain a bird house especially in farms but thru these tips It would be easier now. Thanks for the tips
Deedee Lewis says
I like your tip about applying an external coat of a natural wood preservative for unpainted birdhouses. My mom has a wood birdhouse that she loves in her garden and she likes to sit and watch the birds come to it. I will have to let my mom know about the wood preservative tip.