Nesting birds are sometimes drawn to your home's gutters. They provide a somewhat protected area that is also easy for the birds to access, which makes the gutters seem like the perfect place to raise their young. This can lead to ineffective or clogged gutters, so it's important to remove old nests and keep the birds out.
#1: Make Sure the Nest Is Empty
Before you can begin clearing out the debris from nesting birds, you have to make sure there are no eggs or nestlings still dwelling in it. It is illegal to destroy certain bird species' nests during nesting season, which includes those of migratory birds and song birds. In some locations, native bird species are also protected. If you're in doubt about the bird species calling your gutters home, consult with a professional before removing the nest, or wait until the nestlings have flown the nest permanently before removing it.
#2: Clear It Out
Clean-up begins once the nest is clear. Begin by removing all nesting materials and leaves from the gutters. Wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands during this chore. If you must use an extension ladder to reach your gutters, it's also a good idea to have someone on the ground spotting you for safety.
Nest debris can also end up in downspouts, especially if there are any horizontal sections on your spout. Rinse out the spouts with a sharp spray of water from your garden hose. If this fails, use a plumbing snake down the spout to clear it out. Once everything is removed, rinse out the gutters and spouts with water.
#3: Create a Barrier
The birds will return if you leave your gutter open. You have two choices when it comes to keeping them out – DIY mesh covers or professionally installed gutter guards.
For the DIY option, use metal mesh with 1/2-inch openings. Cut the mesh so it's slightly wider than your gutters, and then lay it over the top. You can secure it in place with plastic clips or by wrapping plastic zip-ties around the gutter and over the top of the mesh.
If this seems like a lot of work, or you're worried about how it will look, invest in professionally installed gutter guards. These will keep birds and small animals out of the gutters, while also making the gutters easier to clean.
#4: Monitor for New Activity
Even though the gutters are covered, you'll need to keep an eye on them. Squirrels, in particular, can sometimes lift up mesh coverings, which gives birds entrance to your gutters again. Check the gutters in the spring, midsummer and fall to make sure they are still clear. Remove any debris that piles up on top of the mesh or guards at this time to ensure they continue to work properly.
If a lot of birds are attracted to your yard, consider installing bird houses on your property. Providing an alternative nesting site can entice the birds away from your gutters, while still keeping them close by so you can enjoy them.