Our three backyard, in the trees, birdhouses have been inhabited by
sparrows, according to SWMBO. I don't know if I should empty them of
the nesting materials or not, and when to do so. They don't seem to
be living in them any more, but have not gone south yet, if ever,
because I seem them a lot in the various shrubs we have around the
Empty the bird houses out and rebuild them with proper sized access
holes so the sparrows will nest in the bushes. Check your bird feed
supply store for the right sizes in your area.
In our backyard we maintain a major bird feeding operation for our
amusement, sans birdhouses. In the future we may do wren sized
domiciles and we have a purple martin palace to mount, but the
goldfinches, cardinals, house finches, woodpeckers, bluejays and such
don't seem to need special housing.
I'm not sure if birds actually live (roost?) in bird houses in the
winter, or just use them to raise their young - which presumably they
don't do in the winter in your area (have young that is).
Cleaning them out can remove nasty viruses, mites and fleas (which is a
good thing) but I'd be careful not the breath any the dust as you clean
All smells gone, all viruses gone, sadly nesting material is gone and
they'll have to start over, or you can supply fresh from petstore.
Whatever happened to that avion flu epidemic that wiped out all the
'outside' birds sweeping across the globe?
Always clean out at the end of the season. Few birds will build new
nests on top of old, plus various critters can be living in old nests.
Around here it always seems to be ants.
Despite statements elsewhere in this thread to the contrary, birds
sometimes *do* roost in empty nest boxes during cold winters. Eastern
Bluebirds, Nuthatches, Chickadees and some others will do this to keep
warm. Nest boxes should still be cleaned out, though.
rec.birds is a good place to ask questions about birds.
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