What to do with your Nesting Birds

If you can hear a scratching noise in the roof at night, you may well have nesting birds under the eaves, in the roof itself, or inside the guttering. This can be annoying, but in most cases will do no real harm. In the vast majority of cases, they simply get in via a gap or hole in your roof, or build nests for their chicks under your eaves. Sometimes the birds will return every year, but often the nest is a one-off. The best option is simply to leave them be, take no action other than removing the nest once the birds have vacated. Sometimes the nests will fall down themselves as they deteriorate during winter, but if not you can remove them yourself or hire a trades-person do it for you.

You must leave nests well alone where birds are already nesting and especially nests with eggs or chicks. It is against the law in the UK to disturb nesting birds or to remove/destroy a nest before the chicks have matured and flown away. The only time you may be legally able to destroy nests if where pigeon nests are putting public health is at risk, but this is unlikely in most domestic situations. The punishment for interfering with nesting birds is a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison. But once birds have left the nest, check after a week or two to be sure they have gone, then you can then safely dispose of the nest perfectly legally.

To prevent birds nesting in the first place, you need to check for gaps between the eaves and your roof, or for any holes in the woodwork around the top of your walls. You should also check for large gaps between the eaves and guttering. Any gaps big enough to poke your small finger into, are big enough for birds to enter and begin nesting. The best way to prevent this is to block any gaps using filler or chicken wire to stop birds entering your roof. However, it is a good idea to leave space in the eaves where birds can nest if they need to, as many species do need these spaces, so if you can allow birds to nest without too much inconvenience, then do consider letting them stay. Do not block up any holes while birds are nesting, you must allow the young to leave the nest before blocking the entrance holes. All birds, their nest and eggs are protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, and it is an offence to prevent parent birds access to their nests. Any work done to deny access to birds must be done in the winter when they are not nesting (note however that pigeons can nest all year round).

You should avoid roofing work if you have birds nesting, but sometimes a roof nest is only discovered during renovation work. In this case you should make an artificial nest box and fix the box as near as possible to the original nest. The parents will usually find their young and continue to look after them in the new location.

Last updated by MyJobQuote on 8th March 2016.
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