Mar 31, 2021 | Featured Web Article

Readers Ask: Should I Clean Out Last Year's Nest Box?

Should you clean out an old nest? This is a topic of some debate among nest box researchers. See what our editors recommend.

This is a topic of some debate among nest box researchers. Messy, dropping-covered old nests should definitely be removed for health reasons. Some researchers believe that a bit of nesting material inside a box enhances its attractiveness to prospecting pairs of birds. Others claim that nest building is an important part of the courtship and breeding process and so we should allow our tenants to build their own nests. We split the difference on our boxes. If the old nest is clean and well built, we leave the nest. More commonly, however, if the nest is soiled or even a little bit gross, we remove it, brush out the box to remove bug bits, poop, and discarded feathers and feather sheaths, rinse with a weak bleach solution, air dry, and let the birds start from scratch. Is it really necessary to do this? After all, natural cavities don't get scrubbed out each spring. That's true, but an empty nest box is more likely to attract a tenant than one that's full of crud, and the box will be a clean and healthy space.

What do you think? Tell us!

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