Birds’ nests in chimneys

Birds’ nests in chimneys

Early Spring is the time of year when birds are nesting; they find chimneys an ideal place to set up home owing to the warmth and shelter that they provide.

Over the past few weeks I have received numerous calls regarding the removal of a potential bird nest. Under the Wildlife and Country Act  it is an offence to destroy or remove a nest during the nesting season which lasts from March to August.  It is necessary to wait until the end of August before checking that the nest is empty and can be removed.

According to James from the Edinburgh’s Bricklayers and Masonry Co, birds pose a far bigger risk than people assume. Having birds’ in your chimney can lead to dangerous blockages, chimney fires, infestations and damp.  Even if you don’t intend to use your fireplace – you should still remove a nest. A nest will completely block your chimney,  this can cause damp issues in the form of condensation build up. The chimney should be vented at both the top and the bottom as air is still allowed to flow through the chimney.

Nick Stokes, Main Editor at, adds: "Besides the discomfort of birds chirping in your fireplace, the birds can actually infest your home with other harmful pests. Insects like ticks love to attach themselves to birds, and if a bird that has ticks ends up stuck in your chimney it can result in the tick getting inside your home and eventually biting you. 

"The second significant danger is bird poop that will end up in your fireplace and can actually lead to diseases, some even as serious as histoplasmosis."


  • If you start to find twigs and other debris in your fire grate then there is a strong possibility that nesting activity is taking place.
  • If you see birds flying back and forth dropping material into the chimney pot.
  • If you normally hear pigeons cooing or traffic noise and then the sounds stop there might be an obstruction in the flue.
  • A fly infestation is often a sign of a collapsed nest or a dead bird in the chimney.
Bird nest in chimney


If you think you have a bird nest in your chimney – DO NOT light a fire.  This might seem obvious but some people try to burn the nest out.  You run the risk of setting fire or filling the whole house with smoke.

From the end of August through to March a sweep can remove the nest – this involves specialist equipment and can be quite time consuming depending of the size and material.  A CCTV inspection is carried out to ensure that all the debris has been cleared.  Finally a smoke test is performed to confirm the correct draw is available to the fire.  A successful test means that there is a smooth combustion in your fireplace or stove, with the nest no longer serving as an obstruction.



Once you’ve had your chimney cleared, you should consider having your chimney fitted with an appropriate bird guard.  Jackdaws, Rooks and Starlings, often birds to blame for nests in your chimney, usually try to return year after year to the same nesting site when they come back form their annual migration.

Can find more info at our good friends Best Sweep