home improvement

How To Keep Birds Out Of Your Chimney

It’s always a bit startling when you hear strange noises coming from your home, but those persistent noises that often get louder and louder end up leaving you more curious than frightened.  You try to pinpoint its location until you’ve exhausted all the options you can think of until you realize that the noise is partly coming from inside your home and partly outside your house. 

How can that be?  Noises from my chimney?  Do I immediately call a chimney sweep company? It’s actually common to have animals take shelter within chimney walls and there are multiple reasons they may be doing it – mainly to take shelter from the elements, but also to escape and to find a safe place to give birth to their offspring.

Once inside, they often find that it’s a scary place for them, the walls are too confined, there is a lack of light and they cannot find the proper space to build a nest.  After time, the bird feels confined, trapped and very stressed.  As it continues to make attempts to escape it gets even more tired, restless and desperate.  We caution you to have patience with this bird, many states have laws against killing birds and you’ll find that it’s tough to kill a bird that is in tremendous despair.  Here are a few things you can do to ensure that birds don’t continue to get trapped in your chimney walls.

Signs

Distinctive, unique sounds can be heard from your chimney, they won’t sound like the beautiful chirping sounds you’re accustomed to, instead they’ll sound like restless scratching, rustling, thumping and banging.  The banging will be very frequent at times and then silent at others.

When flues are far apart you can sometimes see birds falling into the fireplace but when the little birds are safe from falling you can hear them calling out to their mother.  A tell tale sign that you have birds in your chimney is the emission of a bad odor such as fecal matter, or under extreme circumstances, it could even be a decaying body.

Dangers of birds

But why should you be so concerned about these birds that you share living quarters with?  After all they’re cute and chances are they are harmless.  While that may be true, birds are still will creatures and they do have the ability to carry and transmit other dangerous microscopic life that could be extremely harmful. 

In fact, birds are commonly known for carrying many types of secondary pests such as mites, ticks and other insects carrying diseases that can cause severe damage, or death if left untreated.  Not only that, but birds that have built nests in your chimney are also going to leave behind fecal matter that not only draw more bacteria and bugs, but it can also cause respiratory issues such as histoplasmosis, which is a dangerous fungus that is found in bird droppings in humid areas such as the deep south and the midwest. It’s usually not a serious issue if it is confined to the lungs, but can be fatal if it’s spread to the rest of the body.

Steps to Remove Birds from Chimney

  • Confirm – you’ll want to ensure that the sounds are, in fact, coming from the chimney and are due to birds and not other rodents.  Birds are more likely to build nests in chimneys so they can lay eggs and escape other predators.  For example, chimney swifts are birds that migrate from South America between June and September.  If there is a shortage of hollow trees near you then they are more likely to nest in your chimney.
  • Scare tactic – you don’t want to be cruel to the bird but you also want to send them a message that will get your point across.  Get inside the chimney as deep as you can and make loud noises to see if that will get them to leave.  You can also try air canisters and other tools that will cause commotion but won’t hurt them.  Get creative.
  • Bird rehab – if nothing seems to be working then you may want to try a bird rehabilitation center where they will remove the bird and any you chicks it might have.  They have staff that are experienced in handling birds and they’ll even have the proper equipment.
  • Sweep – contact a local chimney sweeper to thoroughly clean out your chimney once the birds have been removed.  They’ll clean out the nest and also clean out any soot, creosote and ash that you may have caked onto your walls.  Price will vary depending on how much needs to be cleaned and removed but you’re likely looking at a beginning price of about $150.
  • Chimney screen – the most effective way to keep birds and other animals from entering and nesting in your chimney is to put up a screen shield, depending on the syle you get, it looks like a metallic screen door only with larger holes.  The cost can vary based on the style you choose, the cost of material, the height of the roof, and any other conditions going on with your chimney, but an average price range of $250 to $1000 is very typical.
  • Warn – let your neighbors know that you’ve been having this problem so they can keep an eye out for their chimney.  As soon as birds understand that they can’t live/nest in yours, they’ll go searching for another.  It’s the easiest place for them to build and it could be a while before your neighbor notices something suspicious.

There are simple measures one can take to avoid birds and other rodents from entering and taking over your chimney, the easiest and most effective being the installation of a chimney screen.  Once you’ve removed the bird, we recommend that the screen be the first thing you install in your home.  Birds can be tricky and somewhat dangerous to deal with so if you feel uncomfortable getting rid of it then we recommend you contact your local bird rehabilitation center or animal control to assist you with this.