While out in the garden today, I noticed my birdhouse hanging in the Dogwood tree and decided today was a good day to get the ladder out and take it down for cleaning. When it comes to our own homes it’s pretty easy to tidy up using something like coffee tables with storage, but when it comes to birdhouses you need to be a little more careful! and Black-capped Chickadees have used the nest box two years in a row and I wanted to have it clean and ready for another season of nesting. February is a good month to get your houses clean, repaired and ready for spring.
Well made birdhouses have access to the inside of the house for easy cleaning. My birdhouse, made a Portland craftsman and sold by Backyard Bird Shop, has a roof with three screws that are easily removed. Each year I look forward to seeing what is left in the house. I unscrewed the lid and this year I found a tidy little moss nest with some fur woven in. One egg didn’t hatch and the intact egg was still in the nest. After examining the nest I can’t tell if the fur is my dog’s hair I collected from combing her or Pygora Goat Fleece I purchased at the Backyard Bird Shop. Either way, it was a delight to see the Chickadee’s creation. After removing the nest, I noted the house was dry. This is a good sign. If the house was wet, I would probably consider getting a new house or try to repair the leak. A leaky house might cause the Chickadees to be wet and cold during nesting. Because the nest was so tidy and clean, I tapped out any leftover dust and debris and simply added a new handful of wood chips to the bottom of the nest box. Chickadees like to excavate as part of their nesting ritual. Many people are surprised to find them removing the wood chips, but that is their natural instinct.
My birdhouse was in fairly good repair, but I had noticed that a squirrel had been chewing on the entrance hole recently, and I needed to fix the enlarged hole. Fortunately the hole wasn’t enlarged too much and I was able to fit a metal cover over the hole to reduce it to 1 1/8 inch which will make it perfect for the chickadees and restrict larger birds. This will also prevent future chewing by the squirrels. I had to improvise with larger screws to make it work, but with any luck I will get a few more years out of this nesting box. Now I just have to sit back and wait for activity. In years past, the Chickadees started excavating cedar chips as early as March. When they do start looking, they will find a nice clean house all ready for another season of nesting waiting for them.