How to prepare for the NEST

Apartment cleaning for titmouse and nuthatch

Late summer is the right time to clean nest boxes

In September the last offspring left the nesting boxes. Now it is important to remove old nests together with the parasites living in them, such as bird fleas, mites and ticks, so that the bird brood is not excessively infested in the coming year.

View into the nest box - Photo: Helge May

Sharp chemical cleaning agents or even disinfectants must never be used for cleaning. It is enough if the box is swept out thoroughly. In the event of a strong parasite infestation, you can also rinse out with clear water and, if necessary, a little soda lye. The inside of the box should then be able to dry out well. After all, the nest box does not have to meet our hygiene requirements of our own "good room".

You are never immune to surprises when cleaning the nest box. It is therefore advisable to knock briefly at the nesting boxes to be checked so that the possible home owner - such as a dormouse or a wood mouse - is warned and can leave his home. This saves you a lot of unpleasant horrors.

Nest box with metal ring as woodpecker protection - Photo: Helge May

The dormouse is also often found in bird nesting boxes. The relationship with the feathered house owners is usually unproblematic, as the gray sleeper usually only visits the bird houses when the birds have flown out. For wintering from the end of October, the sleepers prefer to use burrows because they are more frost-proof than the small nesting boxes.

Late summer is the ideal time to clean the nest boxes because the boxes are now largely free of new tenants. As soon as autumn comes, many small animals, including useful and threatened species, set up in bird nesting boxes for the winter months. These include earwigs, lacewings, wasp and bumblebee queens and mammals such as various species of mice and bats. In addition, some species of birds, such as titmice, like to spend the night in the nesting boxes on cold winter nights.

If you can't quite manage it in late summer, you can only clean your nest box at the end of winter - i.e. immediately before the breeding season. However, it is then not easy to find the right time, as some birds start breeding very early and at the same time there is a risk of unduly disturbing hibernators.

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