Sharing Our Space: It’s Nesting Audit Season

15 May 2024

Flying Squirrel Steph Weizenbach


Fall is an ideal time to do a bird nest audit of your property, checking for unwanted nests and cleaning out nest boxes.

House sparrows nest in all kinds of places. I once rescued a nest of house sparrows out of a hood fan. The unsuspecting homeowner turned on her stove fan after returning from vacation, and the nestlings slid down the vent and began chirping loudly from inside her kitchen fan! Luckily, I was able to pull the nestlings out safely. You can prevent sparrows from nesting in your kitchen and dryer vents by inspecting the vent cover outside. If your vent does not have an appropriate cover, you can purchase one from your local hardware store. Have a look inside the vent and remove any nesting material before installing the new cap. 

Take some time to inspect and clean out your nest boxes. Most bird houses have a side wall or bottom that opens for ease of cleaning. Before opening the nest box, stand to the side and knock first, to see if anyone is home. I once opened a nest box to find a sleepy flying squirrel inside. Startled, I screamed before regaining my composure to snap a photo, and then carefully shut the door to let the squirrel carry on snoozing. 

Once you’ve determined your nest box is not occupied, open it to remove the old nesting material and clean the next box with mild soap. Let it dry and set it back up. Resident birds, such as chickadees, may use nest boxes during the winter as roosts. Having the box already set up also ensures it is ready for returning migrants who begin searching for nest sites early in the spring.