Most old bird nests contain fleas and other parasites, which remain in the nest until the following spring, when they can infest the next batch of baby birds.
It’s therefore important to remove old nests and clean out nest boxes in autumn, after the birds have vacated them. It’s also a good idea to convert the box into a winter roost, giving birds a cosy refuge on cold nights.
More advice on caring for birds:
Here’s how to do it.
You Will Need
- Bird box
- Material for insulation, such as dry wool, hay or wood shavings
- Dustpan brush
- Boiling water
- Cloth and veterinary cloth (optional)
Remove the nest from the box, including any unhatched eggs, and discard. It’s only legal to do this between August and January.
Use a dustpan brush to thoroughly clean out of the box, paying particular attention to the corners and sides.
Wash with hot water to kill any parasites. You could use veterinary disinfectant. Do not use insecticides or flea powders.
Allow the box to dry out completely before adding cosy roosting material. Here, we’ve used sheep-wool insulation.
Feeding birds in winter
It’s a good idea to feed birds all year round, but this is especially important in winter. Read our advice on feeding garden birds in winter.