Birds In Your Vent

Due to extensive loss of habitat, some species of birds have adapted by utilizing the eaves, dryer and stove vents of homes for nesting cavities. Most homeowners are aware of this problem, but wait until nesting season to correct the situation.

I can hear the babies. How much longer before they leave?
What can I do to prevent this from happening again?
How do I remove the nesting material once they leave?
How do I know when they've left the vent?
The babies fell out of the vent. What should I do?
The babies fell through the vent onto my stove fan. What should I do?
They look really hungry. Can I give them some food or water?
Why can't I just remove them now?
Will your organization come do this for me?

Once nesting has begun, it is imperative that you allow the baby birds to mature and leave the nesting cavity before restricting access. This process usually takes 3 weeks after the eggs have hatched.

I can hear the babies. How much longer before they leave?By the time the babies become vocal enough to be heard by a homeowner, the babies are usually 6-10 days old (if not older). This means they will be old enough to leave in 11-15 days.

Once the parents and babies have vacated the nest, immediately purchase and install a bird vent guard. They usually cost $4-$5, and are much less expensive than the $10-$20 it costs volunteer wildlife rehabilitators to rehabilitate the average bird. Window screening is not effective, as the birds will peck through it.

Vent GuardThe most common cover is a  DeflectO Dryer Vent Bird Guard  and fits over any 3" or 4" dryer or bathroom exhaust vent. 7-1/4" wide x 7-1/4" long x 4-1/4" high. It can be purchased online through Amazon, and at most home improvement stores including Home Depot.

How do I remove the nesting material once they leave?The parents build large nests that are usually within the first 2 feet of the vent opening. This can be removed using a wire coat hanger. If birds have nested in the vent for several seasons, there will be more nesting material because each parent builds a new nest. Remove what you can reach with a wire coat hanger. It may be necessary to push excess nesting material out by using a hose and feeding it through from the inside of you house until it appears from the exterior vent.

How do I know when they've left the vent?The parents will continue to return with food every 20 or so minutes and each time they return, the babies will begin loudly begging for food. They stop as soon as the parent leaves. If you no longer hear the babies chirping during the day and you don't see a parent bird entering or leaving the exterior vent opening for several hours, it is safe to assume that everyone has left the nest.

The babies fell out of the vent. What should I do? If the babies have fallen out of the nest from the exterior vent opening, you will need to construct an 8"x8" box with a 2" opening. Place ALL the babies inside this box and hang it over the opening of the vent. The parent birds should begin utilizing the new safer nesting box and feed their babies within 45 minutes. Do not move the nesting box to a new location because the parents will only return to the exact location of the original nest site. Once the babies have matured and left the nest box, immediately purchase and install a bird vent guard.

The babies fell through the vent onto my stove fan. What should I do?If the babies accidentally slide through the vent and end up on top of your stove fan, do the following:

  • Just as a precaution, turn off the power that leads to the fan
  • Remove the metal grill or filter
  • Unscrew all but one of the screws which mount the fan and lift the fan out of the way
  • Have a box ready to put the babies into and gently remove them from the duct
  • They may be hungry and begging for food, but don't worry - they won't bite
  • construct an 8"x8" box with a 2" opening. Place ALL the babies inside this box and hang it over the opening of the vent. The parent birds should begin utilizing the new safer nesting box and feed their babies within 45 minutes. Do not move the nesting box to a new location because the parents will only return to the exact location of the original nest site. Once the babies have matured and left the nest box, immediately purchase and install a bird vent guard.

They look really hungry. Can I give them some food or water?Baby birds derive all their fluids from the food their parents bring them. You can bring on pneumonia by giving them water. If you want to give them a temporary food until the nest box is constructed, tiny slivers of peeled grapes or hard-boiled egg whites should be fine for 1 or 2 feedings. They need to eat every 20 minutes, so the nest box will need to be constructed quickly. Please note, this diet is not nutritionally complete -- it is only sufficient to hold them over until their parents resume feedings.

Why can't I just remove them now?Wildlife rehabilitators are unpaid volunteers that care for wildlife at their own expense. They are limited to caring for wildlife that are orphaned or injured, not wildlife that are removed from the nest where their parents were caring for them. They would be unable to provide this valuable service if all their resources were used for caring for birds that homeowners removed from their residence by choice.

Baby birds require feedings every 20 minutes and usually require 9 weeks of care. This is very labor intensive for wildlife volunteers. Removing these babies for convenience only increases the burden placed upon wildlife rehabilitators. It is much easier to allow their parents to finish raising them for the remaining 2-3 weeks.

Will your organization come do this for me?Most wildlife rehabilitation organizations assist the pubic in placing orphaned and injured wildlife with a rehabilitator near them, as well as provide area residents with advice on dealing with wildlife dilemmas. The information provided is normally sufficient in helping the public address their particular situation. If you require assistance in installing a vent guard, it is recommended that you contact a licensed contractor in your area.

Property Managers: We estimate that maintenance staff spend approximately 20 minutes per ground level unit/per vent annually cleaning out vents and repairing older vent covers. Labor costs increase for servicing vents on higher units. It is cost effective to make a one-time investment in replacing older vent covers with bird vent guards.

For information regarding other wildlife dilemmas, solutions and products, Click Here

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