Should Birdhouses Be Cleaned Out? A Guide to Keeping Your Backyard Birds Healthy

Should Birdhouses Be Cleaned Out Healthy Backyard Birds
Should Birdhouses Be Cleaned Out – Healthy Backyard Birds

Do you have a little birdhouse or a cozy nest box in your garden? You might be thinking, “Should I clean it?” Well, the answer is a big YES! It’s super important to keep your birdhouse clean, just like your own room. This helps the birds stay happy and healthy.

Why Clean Your Birdhouse?

There are a few key reasons to clean out your birdhouse each year:

  1. Prevent disease: Old nests can have parasites, bacteria, and fungus that can make birds sick. Removing the old nest material helps keep the birds healthy.
  2. Make room for new nests: Birds usually build a new nest each year. If the old nest is still in the birdhouse, there may not be space for a new one.
  3. Attract more birds: A clean birdhouse is more appealing to birds looking for a nesting spot. If you want to bring more birds to your yard, cleaning the birdhouse can help.

When to Clean Your Birdhouse

Hey there, young birdwatcher! Want to know the perfect time to give your birdhouse a good cleaning? It’s in the early spring, just before our feathered friends start looking for a place to build their nests. Think of it like getting a room ready for a special guest.

For most places, this means you should grab your cleaning gloves sometime in late February or March. But remember, it can be a little different depending on where your home is. If you’re not sure, you can always ask a grown-up or look up when spring starts in your area.

Cleaning the birdhouse in early spring is great because it’s like rolling out a welcome mat for the birds. They’ll be super excited to find a clean and cozy spot to raise their babies. Plus, you’ll get to see all the action right from the start!

You can also clean the birdhouse in the fall, after all the baby birds have left the nest. Wait until you’re sure the birds are gone, usually by September or October.

Avoid cleaning the birdhouse in the late spring or summer, when birds are actively nesting. Disturbing the nest could cause the parent birds to abandon their eggs or chicks.

How to Clean Your Birdhouse

Follow these steps to properly clean out your birdhouse:

  1. Open it up: Most birdhouses can be opened from the side, top, or bottom. If your birdhouse doesn’t open, you may need to take it apart.
  2. Remove old nests: Use gloves to take out any old nesting material, such as twigs, grass, feathers, and droppings. Throw this away in a sealed bag so it doesn’t attract pests.
  3. Scrub it down: Use a brush or putty knife to scrape off any remaining debris. Then scrub the inside with a mild bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) to kill parasites and bacteria. Rinse well and let it dry completely.
  4. Make repairs: Check the birdhouse for any damage, like cracks or loose parts. Make repairs as needed so the house is safe for birds.
  5. Put it back: Once the birdhouse is clean and dry, put it back together and hang it up in its spot. Add some fresh nesting material like dry grass or wood shavings to welcome new birds.

Cleaning Tips for Different Birds

Different types of birds have slightly different nesting preferences. Here are some specific tips for common backyard birds:

BirdCleaning Tips
BluebirdsClean bluebird houses after each brood leaves the nest, usually 2-3 times per summer. Remove old nests completely.
WrensWrens may have 2-3 broods per year. Clean wren houses between each brood if possible, or at least once in early spring.
ChickadeesClean chickadee houses in early spring before nesting starts. Remove old nests but leave some wood shavings in the bottom.
Purple MartinsMartin houses need to be cleaned and repaired each fall or winter. Remove old nests and scrub compartments with a bleach solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I find an active nest in my birdhouse?

If you discover a nest with eggs or baby birds, leave it alone and wait to clean the house. Check back in a few weeks to see if the birds have left yet.

Can I move my birdhouse?

It’s best not to move a birdhouse during nesting season, as this may cause the parents to abandon the nest. If you need to relocate it, do so in the fall or winter when it’s not in use.

How often should I clean my birdhouse?

Most birdhouses should be cleaned at least once a year, in the spring or fall. Houses used by bluebirds or other birds that have multiple broods may need to be cleaned 2-3 times per breeding season.

What if I find a dead bird or abandoned eggs?

Unfortunately this can happen sometimes. Wear gloves to remove any dead birds or unhatched eggs and dispose of them in a sealed bag. Then clean the house thoroughly before allowing any other birds to use it.


Cleaning your birdhouse each year is a simple but important task. It helps keep wild birds healthy and makes the house more attractive for nesting. By following these guidelines for when and how to clean, you can be a responsible host to the birds that call your backyard home.

Remember, the rewards of watching birds raise their young in the house you provide are well worth this small bit of maintenance. Your feathered tenants will thank you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *