Pest Problems

How To Stop Birds From Building Nests In Your Gutters

For many centuries the large cities and surroundings have been developing, moving the wildlife away from its natural habitat. However, for some bird species adaptation to the man-made environment wasn’t an impossible task to accomplish. They learned to benefit from human habitation and take advantage of the newly built spaces. So, if you notice a bush-looking structure sticking out of your gutter, there is a high chance that some bird found a comfortable nesting ground there.

Bird nests in gutters aren’t necessarily dangerous. However, if the issue is neglected, it can lead to more serious problems, like blocked drains or structural water damage. 

So, if you:

  • Have noticed a birds nest in your gutter;
  • Are searching for a humane bird nest removal method;
  • Want to keep birds from nesting in your gutters in the future,

Then keep on reading! You will find everything you need to know in this article and will learn how to stop birds from nesting in your guttering.

Why do birds nest in gutters

There are several things which attract birds to nest in roof eaves:

  1. Far from the ground – Birds try to build their nests up high for the safety of their hatchlings. A female bird will certainly search for a place where the nest will be protected from opportunistic predators.
  2. Provide a shelter for the nest – Even though flying can be considered an advantage against most predators, raptors can still reach the nest from above unless it’s well-hidden. The parent bird should be sure that when she leaves to search for food or a night sleep, the hatchlings will be protected from the potential dangers.
  3. Less labour-intensive – Some birds, like starlings and house sparrows, have learned to take advantage of hollow areas in roofs or gutters to make their nests. Although the ready-made places still need some lining, it doesn’t require a lot of work.
  4. Close to food sources –  Packed leaves and humidity in the gutters create a perfect ground for the insects to thrive in. And, well, birds feed on insects. Once the babies hatch, the parent bird will be retrieving food and bringing it to the hatchlings, so a location close to the food source is important. And when the food source is right next to the nest, the place immediately becomes more attractive to nesting birds. 

Rely on professional help to stop the birds from building nests in your gutters!

What birds nest in gutters

Some of the most common types of birds nesting in eaves or guttering are:

  • Pigeons – Building their nests on smooth and flat surfaces, they could cause severe damage to the roof and gutters at your property. Like many other birds, pigeons use the same nest building upon the previous one.
    In most areas where pigeons breed, there are two main breeding seasons: March to June and August to November. Usually, the female lays around two eggs, and it takes about 18 days for the eggs to hatch.
  • Starlings – Extremely adaptive to the surrounding area, these birds can live in rural and urban environments, and it is not a surprise if you find out starlings nesting in your roof.
    It is common for starlings to return to the same breeding ground every year. However, it is possible that they won’t use the same nest as the previous year, but if it is vacant, another couple may choose to nest in it. The nesting period begins around mid-April, and they lay about 4-6 eggs. Approximately 12 days after the eggs are laid, the chicks hatch.
  • Sparrows – One of the most common birds nesting in the roof or guttering. They usually use straws or feathers to build a nest, and if not removed on time, this can cause damage to your property.
    Sparrows can be faithful to their nest site and build a new nest in the same area every year. They nest from April to August, and most birds, lay two or three clutches yearly. The female lays between 2 and 5 eggs which hatch after approximately 14 days.
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What to do if a bird builds a nest in your gutter?

Apart from causing damage to your property, bird nests can also be harmful to human health. Birds carry a lot of bacterias and pathogens, which is why it is highly recommended to remove them as soon as possible.

However, according to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, an occupied bird’s nest under no circumstances should be removed. Nests and eggs of any wild bird are protected by law in the UK and must be left untouched until the birds leave the nest. The penalty for illegal removal of bird nests and damage to them is an unlimited fine and up to six months of imprisonment.

However, the law provides for exceptions. Hence, it’s acceptable for an authorised, qualified person to remove a nest if the feral birds belong to pest species. If birds are causing problems for your household, it is advisable to contact the correct pest control specialists, who will have the knowledge and experience to solve the problem and advice on a long-term solution for the bird nesting.

It’s possible to remove the nest by yourself, however, you need to apply for a license that is issued by the relevant authorities: Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Natural Resource Wales, or Northern Ireland Department of the Environment.

Can the nest be removed without any damage to the birds?

Usually, it is safe to remove nests when the nesting season is over. This happens between October and February. 

Once you see that the nest is no longer in use, you can remove it from your gutters. However, you need to remember that some bird species, like starlings or house sparrows, may produce more than one brood in the following season. Therefore, be careful not to disturb an active nest when removing it.

How to stop birds from nesting in your gutters

  1. Remove the inactive nest by hand.

    If you are performing the removal by yourself, wear long-sleeve gloves and respiratory protection. Dispose of the nest in a trash bag and seal it nicely. In the case where the removal needs to be performed during the breeding season, make certain to contact an authorised for the procedure person or obtain the licence yourself. 

  2. Clean the gutters thoroughly.

    Birds are attracted to gutter debris – it provides them with great building material and can hide insects that they feed on. Make sure to remove all the leaves and debris from your gutters. For sludgy matters use a plastic scoop or a spatula.

  3. Install gutter guards.

    Good gutter guards will protect your gutters from accumulating dirt and debris and prevent birds from building nests.

  4. Hang a bird deterrent.

    Placing a fake owl or a scarecrow will serve as a great short-term solution until you install permanent protection. The dummies, however, are effective for a limited time, as birds eventually get too familiar with them.

  5. Fit bird spikes.

    Bird spikes are long, needle-like rods which can be attached to building ledges, roof lines, window sills etc. They will not only prevent birds from building nests in your gutters but will also stop them from landing on your roof.

  6. Place a bird nestbox in the garden.

    If you don’t mind birds keeping you company in your garden, but want to deter them from the gutters, try installing a nestbox. Just make sure to install it away from the windows and doors as birds can be quite noisy and messy.

  7. Fix the gaps and cavities on the roof

    Make sure you seal the openings so you can prevent a bird from nesting under your roof

Why birds nests in gutters is a big problem?

  • Blockage – Birds build nests using twigs, dirt, feathers, and other debris that can create an obstruction for the water to leave the drains and gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to more serious problems, like flooding issues, mould and potential structural damage;
  • Bird droppings damage – Bird droppings aren’t only unappealing but can also cause irreversible damage to your gutters. Because of the acidic nature, these droppings can speed up the rusting process of metals by eating up the paint and exposing the bare metal to rain and sun;
  • Disease transmission – Birds, pigeons, in particular, are associated with a potential spread of airborne diseases. The most common are Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis and Salmonellosis. Besides transmitting disease, they can carry such ectoparasites as mites, bed bugs, and yellow mealworms.  
  • Noise and distress – Bird infestations can be annoying. Not only do they create a lot of noise, but the damage they cause to your property might require costly repairs. Besides, it’s not rare for the birds and chicks to get stuck in the pipes or other narrow areas of the roof.

Need a professional gutter cleaning?

Find a technician to take care of the job.

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Protect your property from birds with professional gutter cleaning service

Think about the last time you cleaned your gutters. Do you remember balancing on a ladder with a bin bag while someone held the ladder to prevent you from falling? Why go through this horrible experience again, if you can get your gutters professionally cleaned?  

Here at Fantastic Services, we use professional equipment. The technicians we work with are able to reach your gutters safely from the ground and eliminate all the dirt and debris without any risks of damage to your property. And if you need to bird-proof your gutters once the cleaning is done or are looking for gutter repairs and maintenance services, we can help with that too! So what are you waiting for? Get your gutter cleaning service today!

Takeaways

  • Birds build their nests in gutters because they provide a high and sturdy sheltered spot next to food sources and building materials.
  • Bird nests in gutters can cause blockages. Apart from that, the bird guano is highly acidic and can speed up rusting of metals.
  • Due to the health and property damage risks that birds in gutters can bring, it is highly advisable to remove them. However, you should remember that only empty nests can be demolished. Disturbance of bird nests during their nesting period (February – October) is prohibited by law.
  • Such preventative measures, like cleaning your gutters, installing gutter guards, handing a dummy predator or fitting bird spikes will stop birds from nesting in your gutters.

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Image source: Ingrid Maasik / Shutterstock

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