Clean out unused box?

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Julian's picture
Clean out unused box?

Is it recommended to clean out a nest box even if no birds nested in it?  I have not been replacing the wood chips in boxes that were not used, even if the chips have been in the box for a few years.  I guess the chips could get pretty moldy after seasons of rain and snow.  In my limited experience, kestrels have not nested in boxes that went unused in previous nesting season(s).  Should I be replacing the unused chips?

drelys's picture



I usually do clean out the unused chips every season if the box goes unused. I tend to have other birds such as European starlings attempt to nest in the box and as you mentioned the unused chips may collect moisture by the end of the season. Even with proper ventilation this moisture may become an issue when it gets cold out and, as time goes on, mold may begin to form along with bacteria. With that said, even if you do replace the chips you may not get kestrels in the box due to a lack of kestrels or maybe even an abundance of suitable sites. I would still suggest replacing them if you can in case you do end up getting kestrels to nest. 


Best of luck,