How to Get Rid of a Bird's Nest in Your Gutter
Author: Chris Miller | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Sitting on the porch on a late summer afternoon, watching the sun go down while you hear the birds merrily chirping away, is a satisfying experience. However, it's not so great when the birds decide to set up shop in your gutters and build their nest. When the thunderstorms arrive, and the rain pours, their nests become a nuisance, blocking the gutters. Now you wonder how to get rid of a bird's nest in your gutter.
The rain overflows and causes problems around the foundations and walls. If you don't clear the gutters and the problem persists, it could lead to damage and costly repairs. So, you need to get rid of those pesky nests ASAP.
Why Is a Bird's Nest in the Gutter an Issue?
So, why are birds nesting in the gutters a problem? Well, they obstruct the effective operation of the gutters funneling water from the roof, down the downpipe, and away from the building's foundations. Gutters play a huge role in preventing rain damage around the base of the walls.
Without gutters, the rain can get into the foundations, removing soil around the home and exposing the walls. You'll encounter issues with rising damp, mold, and other problems that cause the need for extensive, costly renovations. Removing the nest is vital if you want to avoid these issues.
The Most Common Bird Species Nesting in Gutters
Starlings, sparrows, and pigeons are the most common bird species that nest in all types of gutters in homes across the United States. Swifts and martins also like nesting in gutters, but pigeons are usually the biggest problem. the species won't matter when it comes to how to get rid of birds in gutters, but it's cool to know about.
Pigeons like to build large nests using debris like twigs and leaves – which is exactly the material you're trying to keep out of your gutters. Starlings and sparrows build smaller nests using moss, feathers, and grasses. While they aren't as bulky as a pigeon's nest, they still cause problems by blocking water flow in the gutters.
In reality, birds don't realize what the function of a gutter is; they just see it as a comfortable place to build a nest. When the rains arrive and wash out the nest, it can kill their offspring. So, removing the nest means you're actually doing them a favor, provided you remove it ethically.
Ethical, Health, & Legal Issues in Nest Removal
Knowing how to get rid of a bird's nest in your gutter in one thing but in some regions of the United States, it's illegal to remove a bird's nest from your gutters by hand. Sure, there's probably no one around to stop you from doing it, but this rule is in place for a reason.
Removing an occupied nest damages the ecosystem. In many cases, birds won't return to the nest if they sense human interference with it.
As a result, chicks in the nest might be left to starve, and their parents never return to feed them. The laws vary from state to state, and you'll need to check the local regulations in your area. Some homeowners might be more concerned with damage to their property than they are with animal rights, but that's not for us to judge.
Before removing the nest, you also have to consider the health risk presented when handling it. Birds carry many diseases and parasites. For instance, the recent outbreak of H5N1 bird flu transmits through migrating birds. Exposing yourself to this pathogen could present a real health risk.
While it's uncommon for bird disease to spread to humans, there are documented occurrences. So, handle the nest carefully and dispose of it properly to mitigate the chances of the disease spreading in your household and community.
How to Get Rid of a Bird's Nest in Your Gutter
Here's a step-by-step guide to help you remove bird nests from gutters. With the right process, you can ethically remove the nest and prevent any infection from pathogens the birds might be carrying.
1) Look for Signs of Life
Before you remove the nest:
- Check it for signs of bird activity. If the nest has birds living in it, eggs might be present.
- If that's the case, wait for them to hatch and for the fledglings to vacate it before removing it.
- If there aren't any eggs, wait for the birds to leave in the morning and start the removal process.
If you don’t care and realize the eggs were only recently laid, you could toss the entire nest (eggs and all), but realize it's illegal to destroy an active bird nest. Just make sure it’s not some endangered species we need to defend carefully.
2) Gather Your Equipment
You'll need a ladder to reach the roof, a trash bag or bucket, a brush, and a hose. Use a respirator mask and gloves to prevent pathogens from getting on your hands and lungs during the removal.
3) Remove the Bird’s Nest
Don your gloves and mask and climb the ladder. Ensure the base of the ladder is secure before climbing to prevent falls. Remove the nest and place it in the bag or bucket. If the nest is in the downspout, remove as much of it as possible by hand and then flush the rest down using the hose.
4) Responsible Disposal of Birds' Nests
Seal the bag and dispose of the bird's nest in a trash can outdoors. You don’t really have to do all that, though. I will often just toss it into the lawn and then run over it with the lawnmower, mulching it in the process.
5) Prevent Future Nests
Follow our tips below for preventing birds from nesting in your gutters in the future so you aren't asking how to get rid of a bird's nest in your gutter again.
Tips for Preventing Birds from Nesting in Gutters
If you don’t apply some of these tips, you’ll be dealing with this issue at least once a year if not multiple times during the spring season each year.
Use Ultrasonic Sound Devices
An ultrasonic sound device emits a noise inaudible to humans, but birds can hear it. You'll need a battery-operated model. Install it under the roof eaves. These devices also work in chasing away other pests, like wasps and cockroaches, preventing them from nesting in your gutters or on the roof. This works to get birds out of your garage as well.
Install Gutter Screens
A gutter screen is the best method for preventing birds from nesting in your gutters. They also help avoid debris like leaves and twigs from entering the gutter and clogging the downspouts – so that means less annual maintenance involved with cleaning out your gutters.
Gutter screens are moderately priced and easy to install yourself. They feature a screen mesh that stops debris from entering the gutter. They also don't give the birds anywhere to nest. They might decide to build the nest on top of the gutter screen, but it will wash away by itself when the rains arrive.
The only issue with gutter screens is that the stems of leaves and small twigs might lodge in between the mesh, requiring you to conduct a seasonal cleaning anyway.
Install Gutter Spikes
Consider installing gutter spikes instead of a mesh screen. These spike strips come in galvanized steel or plastic designs, and they fit the edges of the gutters, preventing the birds from landing and nesting in the gutters. I think this is a goofy way for how to get rid of a bird's nest in your gutter when you could get gutter screens and keep the leaves out at the same time.
However, like the mesh screen, debris and leaves will lodge between the spikes, requiring seasonal maintenance to remove the debris. People will use tricks like these to keep birds off their porch as well.
FAQ’s Regarding Birds Nesting in Your Gutters
There are some other common questions that arise when we start talking about how to keep birds from nesting in your gutters. Let’s look at those now.
Does Spirit Vinegar Deter Birds From Nesting in Gutters?
Most birds don't enjoy the smell of vinegar and will avoid nesting in areas where they detect the scent. However, there's not much use for it in your gutters. Even if you soak sponges with vinegar, the sun will evaporate them, requiring repeated administration. Rain will also wash it away.
Can I Use a Natural Spray to Stop Birds From Nesting in My Gutters?
Peppermint oil is a natural bird deterrent – they don't like the scent of the oil. You can soak a sponge and leave it in the gutter, but the sun will evaporate, and the rain will wash it away. Using deterrents like vinegar and essential oils might be good for covered areas in the garden, but it's not a pragmatic solution for preventing birds from nesting in your gutters.
Do Bird's Nests Carry Diseases?
Yes, many birds harbor parasites and diseases. H5N1 bird flu is an example of an aggressive, near-lethal pathogen birds carry. While H5N1 isn't much of a concern for human transmission, avoiding any contact or exposure to bird nests is best. When removing birds' nests, wear gloves and an N95 respirator mask.
Does Garlic Repel Birds From Nesting in My Gutters?
Birds don't like the smell of garlic, but it won't be an effective solution for stopping them from nesting in your gutters. Using gutter spikes or mesh gutter guards to resolve the issue and prevent nesting is better.
Key Takeaways for How to Stop Birds From Nesting in Gutters
Let’s recap the main points from above with a quick summary:
- Pigeons, starlings, sparrows, swifts, and martins all nest in gutters in regions around the United States.
- Nests in your gutters can cause them to overflow and damage your walls and foundation. When it gets saturated, the extra weight of the nest can also damage the gutters.
- Remove the nest to stop it from damaging your property.
- Removing the nest requires careful consideration to respect animal rights. Don't remove nests with eggs or fledglings in them. In some states, there might be laws preventing the removal of active bird nests.
- Wear PPE like gloves and a respirator to avoid exposure to parasites and diseases when removing the nest.
- Dispose of the nest in a sealed bag in an outdoor trash can.
- Use mesh gutter screens or gutter spikes to prevent birds from nesting in your gutters.
Follow this method and not only will you get rid of the current bird nest but you’ll stop future ones from occurring.
That’s How to Get Rid of a Bird's Nest in Your Gutter
Toss out the bird’s nest in a passionate way where there’s not close-to-hatching or hatched eggs with babies in the nest. At this point you need to either create some kind of deterrent, of which we’ve recommended several above, or create a mesh or spikes that stop birds from nesting in these locations. That’s how to get rid of a bird's nest in your gutter.