21 July 2022

How to stop birds nesting in your chimney – the complete guide

Birds nesting in your chimney aren’t just an inconvenience. They can cause serious problems across your whole house, for your family’s health and also for the safety of the birds. There are a range of bird proofing methods you can use to deter these animals.

From blockages that lead to fires and damp to fly infestations and even the spread of dangerous diseases, nests from our feathered friends in our chimneys are the last thing you want.

Left untreated, birds nesting in your chimney can be a hard problem to solve so the sooner you act to safely remove birds and the nests, the sooner the fire hazard and risk of infections and infestations will disappear.

We are on hand to share some top tips on how to stop birds nesting in your chimney. From a regular chimney sweep to a bird guard, read on to find out how to prevent a bird’s nest becoming a problem in your home.

When can I expect birds to nest in my chimney?

Although you may find bird nests in your chimney all year round, the most common time for a bird’s nest to appear is during nesting season. In the UK, this is February to August however it is worth noting that nesting season can vary depending on the species, with the majority of birds starting to nest in March.

But don’t forget pest control in London is available all year round!

What species of birds nest in chimneys?

Whilst all bird species could choose to build nests in your chimneys, the most common species known to do this is a Jackdaw.

In the UK, there are an estimated 1.4 million pairs of Jackdaws and with so many birds flying around, it’s not surprising that some of them choose to make themselves at home in our chimneys.

Other, less common species who have been known to nest in chimneys are Rooks and Starlings. All of these bird species will use the chimney to create a safe spot to nest and welcome their young into the world before allowing them to fly the nest…literally!

In America, it is a common problem for birds, known as chimney swifts, to make their way down the chimney flue and use glue-like saliva from the gland under their tongue to cement its nest to the chimney wall. This species is particularly tricky to safely remove however luckily, chimney swifts aren’t a reported problem here in the UK.

What are the signs of birds in your chimney?

One of the most common signs of a birds nest in your chimney is when you find twigs, grass, leaves and even hair or other nesting material on the floor beneath your chimney or in your fire grate. If you start noticing these nesting materials, there’s a strong possibility that you have some birds building nests in your home.

Sometimes, an entire collapsed nest will fall down the fireplace too which is an obvious sign of birds nesting above.

Another sign of a bird’s nest is the dreaded bird droppings. Not only are bird droppings in your home unpleasant, they can also spread infections and diseases and even cause food poisoning throughout your home which is one of the reasons it’s important to stop birds from nesting and to organise a bird nest removal as soon as possible.

If you do notice these droppings, avoid direct contact and safely remove these using gloves which must then be disposed of afterwards.

Whilst many of us love the sounds of birds singing every morning, you may not like it quite as much when it’s coming from the inside of your chimney.

Common signs of a bird nesting in your chimney is hearing the regular cooing and chirping of birds from your chimney.

If you live in a busy area, it may be hard if you regularly hear pigeons cooing and loud traffic noise so make sure if you have a chimney, you take the time to listen carefully during quieter times, particularly throughout the night to determine if a bird, or family of birds, are nesting.

Due to a chimney being a dangerous spot for birds to nest, some will eventually die, particularly if the fire has been on and the heat has risen. Unfortunately, another sign of birds choosing to nest in your chimney is when a dead bird appears at the bottom of your chimney breast.

If this sadly happens, you should dispose of the bird properly and ensure you thoroughly wash your hands and dispose of any cloths used to carry the bird afterwards in order to reduce the spread of diseases or infections.

How can I remove a birds nest?

If you’ve realised you have a birds nest in your chimney, it’s important to remove it safely and carefully in order to cause minimum disruption to the birds, and avoid damage to your home.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it is an offence to intentionally take, damage or destroy any active wild bird’s nest in the UK, including those residing in your chimney.

Therefore, you must wait until the nest is no longer active until you can remove the nest. You must also not light fires until the nests have been vacated, hence the importance to bird proof your chimney to begin with and avoid a bird from nesting there.

Once the nest is inactive, the most effective way to remove the nest is to have the chimney swept professionally. A professional chimney sweep knows exactly how to ensure the chimney is cleared fully in order to avoid chimney fires.

Sometimes, a bird may get stuck inside a chimney whilst not nesting. If this is the case, these birds can be retrieved and brought to safety by waiting until night time, making the room pitch black and shining a touch up the chimney.

This tricks the birds into thinking the torch is daylight and once they have come down, they can be gently and safely caught and then released back outside.

How can I stop a bird from nesting in my chimney?

Birds find chimneys to be a safe, warm and dry place which is the perfect environment for nesting season. When a bird spots a chimney, it’s tempting to set up home however with a few tips including a bird guard, chimney sweeping and regular checks, you can help prevent birds, particularly the endangered species, from risking their safety in your chimney.

The chimney cowl

One of the most effective way to stop birds from nesting in your chimney is to install a chimney cowl (also known as a capping cowl, chimney cap or bird guards) on the top of your chimney pot.

The hood shaped coverings help prevent birds from wandering inside your chimney and also help improve a chimney’s functionality by stopping leaves and other debris building up as well as preventing wind from blowing smoke back into your home, a huge benefit for individuals who suffer with a respiratory disease, dry cough or lung disease.

A chimney cap

A chimney cap / bird guard is a small expense which reaps significant rewards and chimney cowls are something that we recommend installing on the top of every chimney stack. Not only do these chimney cowls prevent a bird from nesting, they also help to stop rain from entering the chimney and dampening the fireplace.

Bird Spikes

Another way to deter birds from building nests in your chimney is to install bird spikes around the chimney pot in order to bird proof the chimney and stop birds from finding their way into the chimney flue and begin nesting activity.

Can a chimney sweep help?

It is recommended that every home with a fireplace has regular chimney sweeps from a professional in order to prevent the risk of fires as well as stop birds from nesting within the flue of the chimney.

As a minimum, chimney sweeps should occur at least once every year, ideally towards the end of summer as you get ready to begin lighting a fire again for the cooler months. Regular chimney sweeps will help ensure that a bird’s nest is found before a fire is lit if the birds have chosen to nest within the flue during nesting season.

Chimney sweeping will also help to prevent a fire within the chimneys. It’s important to remember if you have multiple chimneys that all chimneys are swept and not just the master chimney.


No matter which technique you opt for to bird proof your home, the important thing is to do so quickly and effectively and to review your technique yearly, particularly if you opt for bird guards that may move.

It’s for the safety of both the birds, and your home and family, to deter the birds from nesting and to avoid things such as a fly infestation, secondary pests and even fungal spores, all of which can cause damage to your health.


If you need help getting rid of birds nests then don’t forget there are professionals out their that can help chimney sweep!

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