We are entering into bluebird season - when those stalwart blue-feathered friends begin reappearing in our landscapes looking for mates and homes in which to raise their fledglings.
One easy thing you can do to help the population thrive is to clean out your bird boxes each spring around this time (mid to late March). Here's how:
- Ensure that the entrance hole size is not enlarged or blocked
- Repair or replace cracked or rotten wood
- Check to make sure that the nest box resists water intrusion
- Clean the interior after each brood has fledged to reduce parasites. A paint scraper or car window scraper handily remove dried droppings stuck to the walls of the box.
Not all sources agree that cleaning out the boxes is needed, but if you are so inclined here are a few recommendations for how to do so in a manner safe for the birds:
- Remove old nesting material and scrub the house with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water and remember to rinse well to eliminate any residual smell. Dry the house thoroughly, with the door open, in the sun.
- Use an unscented mild dish soap and warm water solution to keep mold from getting in and spreading, dry thoroughly in the sun.
- Some people prefer to use white vinegar instead of bleach. Use a light spray of cleaning vinegar (not more than 6% concentration) to kill any parasites and bugs that have taken up residence, rinse with water, and dry thoroughly.
An unused toothbrush will help you get into the corners of your bird box for a good cleaning, and a car window scraper or paint scraper is handy for cleaning out last year's nest mess on sidewalls, inside top and inside bottom of box.