It’s Spring which means bird nesting season is in full swing. All home and business owners with chimneys should be aware of the annual potential invasion from birds’ looking to take residence. Nests with or without birds living in them can cause various chimney structure problems and are a fire hazard.
Why do birds nest in chimneys?
Birds seek out chimneys to roost in as in their opinion they are an attractive, safe, dry home; essentially a perfect place to raise their young!
Jackdaws and barn swallows are the most common birds to nest in chimneys. Swallows in particular hatch in 15 days and the young continue to use the nest for up to three weeks. Meaning it is important to hire a chimney sweep as soon as you suspect nesting is occurring.
How do you know if a bird is nesting in your chimney?
The first sign that you have a bird in the chimney flue is the presence of a few twigs, or other non-chimney materials dropping down into your fire place. This is the stage in which you should give a chimney sweep a call.
Alternatively, you may notice birds flying back and forth around your chimney pot, or you may hear an excessive amount of tweeting or cooing whilst inside or outside your residence.
How do birds build chimney nests?
Birds will find twigs that are just the right width to lodge in the chimney flue. They will gradually build the twig layers upwards similar to a scaffold until they are around six feet from the top of the
chimney; at which point they build the nest. As the nest nears completion it will reach the top of the flue. The bird will then add materials such as horse manure, moss, grass, hair and fur where it plans on laying the eggs. This upper layer often forms a solid dung mass which is hard to break and remove.
You must never try and light a fire whilst there’s a nest in the chimney. This is because you run the risk of smoke entering the room and the twigs igniting – potentially causing a chimney fire. If you have a gas fire, this can be deadly as carbon monoxide could leak into your room and you’ll be none the wiser unless you have a carbon monoxide detector alarm.
What should you do if a bird is actively nesting in your chimney?
Nesting birds are protected by law, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which means removing, destroying or tampering with an active nest would be illegal. The act protects eggs, live young, and mothering birds. Consequently, it is key to not let the situation escalate if you suspect a bird may have its eye on your chimney!
If you realise that a bird is nesting late on in their building process chimney sweeps can still be of service as a point of call for advice. They will remove any nests blockages but may have to wait until the end of the breeding season (July onwards.)
What does the nest removal process entail?
Believe it or not nest removal is an extremely physical and time-consuming job. Removing the nest produces a surprising amount of debris which needs to be bagged up and removed. To remove a birds’ nest a small brush is used to puncture the nest, this loosens the nests materials. Next, larger brushes are used to sweep out the remainder of the debris. Lastly, a fire test is conducted by the chimney sweep to ensure that the sweep has been effective.
How can birds be prevented from nesting in chimneys?
Chimney sweeps can fit a bird guarding cap, cage or cowl over your chimney. In the future this will provide ongoing protection from any birds, insects or animals entering your chimney. It is vital to get the chimney cap fitted immediately after the nest removal process. If you leave it 24 hours, the birds may begin to rebuild the nest. Within a very short period a frantic bird may have layered up enough twigs to block the chimney for a second time.
Plus, birds that nest in your chimney are very likely to return again the next year to nest in the same place. Although, it’s worth noting that bird guards need to be chosen with care. They must be made of stainless steel if they are to have any decent lifespan. These can be painted or covered in powder coating to make them look aesthetically pleasing.
Here at ES Sweeps we have over thirty years of chimney sweeping experience and are able to remove any nests left by our feathered friends promptly and professionally. If you have any queries get in touch now on 07545 976 100
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A chimney can be home to some strange findings. From newspapers, to money to ducks. A Chimney sweeper with a few years under their belt will have seen it all. Here we’ve compiled some of the most unusual findings we’ve heard about (and some we’ve experienced ourselves).
- A letter to Santa from 1912
A man from Dublin Ireland came across a letter to Santa from 1912 whilst he was cleaning out his fireplace. The note was believed to be from Hannah and Alfred Howard. Remarkably, the note to Santa has had very little burn damage despite the fireplace is used on a regular basis. The note included a list of desired toys and a couple of cute illustrations.
- Newspapers from 1940’s
An experienced Chimney sweeper was cleaning out a lovely customers chimney when he came across some old newspapers. At first glance, he didn’t take much notice, until he noticed the dates. Alike to the letter to Santa, the newspaper over the years had stayed in relatively good condition.
- Dead cats or shoes
Chimney Sweepers in Australia are never surprised if they come across either a dead cat or a shoe in the chimney they are sweeping. This is because traditionally Australia settlers were superstitious and would often hide one or the other in their Chimneys. This practice is said to have come from Britain from an Ancient Roman practice to ward off evil spirits.
Essex and Suffolk Sweeps
Chimneys should be swept regularly to remove the build-up of soot, creosote and any other unusual items that can be lurking up there.
Smokeless coals: At least once a year
Wood: Once a season when in use
Bitumous coal: Twice a year
Oil: Once a year
Gas: Once a year