By Paula Goldberg, Executive Director and Master Wildlife Rehabilitator, City Wildlife, Inc.
Since birds begin looking for new nesting sites around the middle of February, now is the perfect time to begin bird-proofing your house! Thoroughly inspect the exterior of your house to locate potential nesting sites. Cavity-nesting birds, such as sparrows and starlings, like to nest close to buildings, including people’s homes.
Sparrow and starling nests can cause a lot of problems. Dryer and stove vents often won’t work properly once birds have taken up residence. If the nests are built in vents, this buildup can pose a serious fire risk. Since these birds don’t clear their nests from year to year, nest material can accumulate and clog cavity spaces. The birds themselves can also become stuck in vents by falling into open spaces that don’t have easy escape routes.
By taking a few easy steps to make sure all entry points are closed and to prevent birds from building nests in the first place, we recommend installing inexpensive vent covers like the one pictured. (They are very inexpensive and easy to find on Amazon and in your local hardware store.)
Place metal screening around outdoor air conditioners, over attic vents, and in cracks and crevices. To prevent unwanted nesting by sparrows and starlings (and to prevent other unwanted wildlife visitors):
- Inspect the outside of your house now. Look for possible points of entry like outdoor vents, holes in the eaves, and openings around gutters. Cavity spaces should be sealed if you don’t see signs of animal activity.
- If birds have started to nest and you see no eggs or young, remove the nesting material and block the opening with a vent basket or other appropriate material immediately.
- If you find eggs or young birds, leave them alone. You may have to wait 2 to 4 weeks for the young to hatch and leave the nest permanently. Check the nest daily. Once every bird is gone, remove the nest material and immediately block the opening to prevent more nest building.