My fiancee would murder me if I murdered the baby birds.
April 26, 2011 6:06 AM   Subscribe

When can I fix this hole in my house without killing the baby birds?

This past Sunday while enjoying my new grass in the backyard with family, we noticed that there are two sparrows(?) that have taken up residence in a hole up against the edge of the roof of our house. I do not like the idea of birds making a nest under my eaves (especially because I have no attic, the roof is directly above the upstairs rooms,) but I really don't want to destroy any eggs that may be in there.

I'm going to get a can of expanding spray foam insulation and fill that sucker up, but when is an okay time to do it? Do birds follow a sort of pattern? Once summer or fall hits can I be reasonably sure that any baby birds are out of the nest? Obviously I'll be banging around the hole to make sure any live birds come out before I entomb them in sticky foam.

Or am I just over-thinking this and should I fill the hole with wild abandon?
posted by InsanePenguin to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'll let others answer the question of whether you should care about the sparrows' eggs, but one thing to consider is that if you try to fill the hole with foam or whatever else and the adult sparrows see you they will try to dive-bomb you and attack you. Admittedly, sparrows are small, but you don't want to be on top of a ladder with birds flying at your head.
posted by dfriedman at 6:10 AM on April 26, 2011

According to this site, it'd take about two weeks for all the eggs to be laid and hatch, and another couple of weeks for the birds to fledge and leave the nest. Unfortunately it also says that they like to raise multiple clutches per season, so unless you're really on the ball with your birdwatching to get the nest out during the break between the fledglings leaving and mom and dad making some new ones, you'll probably want to wait until fall, at which point mom and dad will likely be out looking for a winter nesting space anyway (and you don't want them to continue to pick your eaves for that, especially since they'll probably want to - I bet your house is warmer than some random tree).
posted by titus n. owl at 6:21 AM on April 26, 2011

I had a bad experience where birds laid eggs that hatched in a wall/roof space after the landlord blocked the hole through which they came in. It was gross. They made horrible noises for days, then died, obviously, then a million flies came out of the walls.

Can you see a nest? I would do it ASAP, having lived through the above.
posted by cranberrymonger at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2011

Maybe wait until fall or winter.
posted by freakazoid at 7:25 AM on April 26, 2011

I would fill it as soon as possible, and I love birds. The reason is that once at my place there were a couple birds nesting on a window sill during the summer a couple years ago. Everything was going fine, they went through the whole eggs/fledgling/babies-leave-the-nest thing two whole times that one season. It was fun to watch and I was enjoying them.

Then, the third time around, when it came time for the babies to start flying, apparently all the bird mites that had been living with them got disturbed and swarmed into the apartment. There were hundreds of them. They bit my roommate. It was horrible and disturbing. So yeah. No more bird nests connected to the house. Best to get rid of it now than wait until the end of the summer for more and more pests to build up and more bird poop to fill up that part of the house.

Sparrows are hardy and they'll just find somewhere else to build a nest.

More info here.
posted by wondermouse at 7:42 AM on April 26, 2011

Response by poster: I can't see a nest, no. The hole is too small and at a strange angle that means I can't get into it.

I think I'm just going to go ahead and fill it.
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:47 AM on April 26, 2011

Just make sure the adult sparrows are outside when you fill it. (A flashlight may help with this.) Otherwise you're going to have some of the issues described above.
posted by anastasiav at 8:03 AM on April 26, 2011

If you can get up there with a ladder, you may hear cheeping if the eggs have hatched. It's late enough in the season that I suspect they have hatched already. In which case they will be fledged and gone within a month or two.

The thing with the bird mites is clearly true, but not inevitable. My neighbor's eaves play host to several different swallow's nests every year, and she's never been flooded with vermin.
posted by ErikaB at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2011

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