Happy Drains Blog

Birds’ Nests in your Gutters

Spotted some twigs and branches in your gutter? It may well be a bird’s nest. According to the RSPB, you can get all kinds of bird species living in your home, with house sparrows, starlings and pigeons the most likely to build nests in gutters. A nest could spell trouble, because it could block or damage the guttering. If the water is blocked it could become stagnant. Bird mess contains uric acid which could eat away at the gutters or brackets, and it could also contain undigested seeds which in time will grow into small plants high up in your gutters, which lead to even more problems.

But if you were thinking of just getting out the ladder and clearing it yourself – please stop! Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it’s an offence to intentionally take, damage or destroy any active wild bird’s nest in the UK. The penalty could be an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison!

You have to allow the chicks to leave the nest first before doing anything to clear the nest or block the parent bird’s access to it. So you need to remove the nest while it’s first being built or wait until the chicks have flown and the nest is no longer active. That would usually be somewhere between August and January. And remember that birds are naturally protective towards their nests and young, so even going up a ladder to check on the nest while it is in active use could be a risky undertaking!

When it is safe and legal to remove the nest, you’ll still need to take precautions. A nest could be home to other living things such as ticks and fleas, and be full of bacteria, so wear gloves and protective clothing. Secure the nest in a bin liner and dispose of it properly.

So how do you prevent birds from nesting in your gutters in the first place> You could try installing gutter guards, essentially a mesh covering the gutter which stops debris like leaves getting in, and prevents birds from attempting to start a nest. Gutter spikes can also deter nesting birds. You could try some kind of decoy, like a plastic owl, or something reflective and off-putting like plastic ribbons or old CDs.

If you come across a bird’s nest in your guttering it may be prudent to get some professional advice. Of course if you want the benefit of our many years experience in dealing with blockages in any part of your drainage system, give us a call at Happy Drains on 0800 849 8099.