About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is it safe to put the nest back in the cleaned out box?

Our bluebirds were using their box for months then abruptly abandoned it. To our knowledge there were no eggs or babies after months of nesting. I took out the nest and placed it around pine trees and cleaned out the box. Is it safe to put the nest back in the cleaned out box? - White Hall, MD
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Bluebirds will not clean out old nests by themselves typically. They may build a nest on top of another previously used nest, but this may promote disease and parasite infestation, and increase the likelihood that a predator will be able to reach in and nab eggs/nestlings that are closer to the entrance hole.

If you are sure your bluebirds have fledged or it is the end of the season (the beginning of September), it is OK to remove the nest and clean out the box completely.

If the birds started or even completed a nest and then left it for some reason, like yours did, the nest material can be left in the box for the season.

When two potential nesting sites are near each other, sometimes a Tree Swallow or Bluebird will build a partial or complete nest because they can't decide which box to use or it may be to deter other birds from nesting nearby. However, sometimes this nest is used for a second brood.

Source: Cleaning out Nestboxes:  http://www.sialis.org/clean.htm
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Related articles:
- How to Attract Bluebirds: http://bit.ly/nfCq2b
- When do you clean bird houses?: http://bit.ly/oiB7fu
- 5 Tips to Attract Birds to Nest in your Bird Houses: http://bit.ly/oBBA0d
- When is the best time to put up a bird house?: http://bit.ly/nq6z7d