Birds Nests

A chimney sweeps arch nemesis

All sorts of birds like to sit and nest in chimneys.  The warm air that emanates from the fireplace below mean that they are an extremely comfortable place for them to spend their time.  Storks, blackbirds and pigeons are all commonly seen congregating on top of used and unused chimneys, but there is one bird in particular that is renowned for its love of nesting in them; the jackdaw.

Jackdaw birds are part of the crow family and are found regularly all across the UK.  They build their nests using various sizes of twigs and leaves, pushing these down into the chimney wedging them tight so that more twigs can be rested on top.  Some twigs that are too small to fit the chimney fall further down and get jammed in narrower parts.

The tightness at which the twigs get jammed in the chimney pot mean that they are very difficult for most property owners to remove themselves.  This means that often a professional chimney sweep must be called in to remedy the problem.  The Chimney Sweeps will have to remove twigs and other debris from all the way down the chimney.  If there are young birds in the nest, it is then illegal to get rid of the nest until they have fully left and the nest is no longer in use.  This can be a real problem and can last for months.

How to tell if your chimney has a nest?

Usually the best way to know if your chimney has a nest is if there is smoke coming back into the room in which you have lit the fire.  This normally indicates that there is something blocking the chimney and quite often this will be a bird’s nest.

A more obvious way of guessing if there is a bird’s nest in your chimney, is if you can hear birds.  Often they may just be sat on top but sometimes they may be building a nest or planning on building one inside it.

If you are finding twigs and leaves falling into your fireplace then it is likely that they are being put there by a bird trying to build a nest.  As mentioned earlier, jackdaw birds push twigs down the chimney pot and when these twigs don’t fit, they will simply fall down and either get wedged further down the chimney or fall into the fireplace itself.

If you see birds moving back and forth from your chimney pot, it is likely that they are starting to build a nest.  The birds will be collecting small branches and leaves which they will then bring back to the chimney to build a nest with.

Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 is one of the most important pieces of Wildlife legislation in this country.  All birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law: The Wildlife & Countryside Act of 1981.  This makes it an offence, with certain exceptions, to deliberately take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.  It is also illegal to take or destroy the egg of any wild bird.  The maximum penalty that can be imposed for an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act - in respect of a single bird, nest or egg - is a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months’ imprisonment.

It states, that it is an offence to;

  • Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird

  • Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built

  • Intentionally take or destroy an egg of any wild bird.

Nesting Season

If you are unsure there is a nesting Jackdaw, then the best advice is to wait until the end of August/September.

The breeding season for Jackdaw's is roughly April - July.

They only have one brood so if they lay early in April incubation takes approximately 20 days.  The nestlings then fledge at approximately 32/33 days, so the first weeks of June would be when you would see the Juveniles.

If they are late breeders in July then the nestlings would fledge late August to early September.

As stated above, there are numerous telltale signs to confirm nesting birds in chimneys.  Debris falling down the chimney into your fireplace, sightings of adult birds bringing food and removing faecal sacs.  Noise from the chicks will enter your loft.  If there is a nest you will definitely hear them, also white splash marks on your roof near to the chimney are other things to look for too.

Due to this fact, Bird nests should only be removed between Mid-September through to the end of March.

How to prevent birds from building nests in your chimney?

The best way to prevent birds from building nests & nesting in your chimney is to completely stop them from gaining access to it altogether.  This can be achieved by using Bird/Chimney Guards or Bird Cowls.  I can supply and fit these for you.