If you start seeing twigs in your fireplace, then birds are taking up residence in your chimney.
It tends to happen within the first four to five months of the year, with February, March and April being the busiest times for nest building.
Most homeowners usually want immediate action, but that’s generally not possible. Here’s 5 things you should NOT do if you suspect you have a nest.
1 – Do NOT expect it to be removed during nesting season
Active bird nests are protected by law under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Anyone who removes an active nest during this time may land themselves with an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in prison. Any sweep worth their salt won’t touch a nest in these circumstances.
If your fireplace is your sole source heating then you can apply for a special licence but for most people, it simply means waiting until the season is over.
2 – Do NOT try to burn it out
Bird nests in chimneys are much bigger than nests you see in trees. All those twigs will cause a big chimney fire which is not only a danger to property, it can also damage your flue and cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Put simply, it’s sheer stupidity so please don’t do it.
3 – Do NOT try to remove it yourself
Notwithstanding the illegality of removing a live nest, trying to tackle it yourself is a bad idea. Firstly, nests don’t simply come out of a chimney. Most need specialist sweeping equipment to remove them. Also, sweeps these days almost always use a CCTV camera to check a nest has been fully removed. A flue which is still partially blocked with nesting material can still cause a chimney fire and/or carbon monoxide poisoning.
4 – Do NOT cap the chimney while a nest is active
This is not only cruel but it is also just as illegal as removing the actual nest. The law is clear that ‘intentionally or recklessly disturbing’ a nest would carry the same penalties.
5 – Do NOT leave the nest once it becomes redundant – even in a disused chimney
Once the nesting season is over, a nest should be removed even if you’re not planning to use the chimney. The reason is that nests harbour damp and moisture, as well as bacteria. That’s not a good combination at all and can cause internal issues in your property such as damp/stained plasterwork.
What you SHOULD do if you have a bird nest in your chimney
The good news is that bird nests can be removed, and the process is quite simple
1. Wait until the end of the nesting season (August/September)
2. Book a professional chimney sweep to remove the nest
3. Ensure a suitable bird guard is placed on the chimney terminal. Birds are territorial so if you don’t have a guard fitted, they WILL return next year.
Birds nesting in chimneys is fairly common, and most times it is simply luck of the draw.
By following this advice, you’ll be staying on the right side of the law and ensuring you help keep your home and family as safe as possible.
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.