What to do about birds in the chimney

The most common type of bird to live in a chimney is the Chimney Swift - it's an amazing bird, and an incredible flyer. They grab sticks on the wing, and build a nest in the flu of your chimney, using saliva to stick the twigs to the flu wall. It's amazing how they can fly in and out of the chimney! The 3-4 hatchlings can make an incredibly loud racket as they call for food. If you have these birds in your chimney, DO NOT START A FIRE - that's illegal and cruel. Just wait a few weeks, and the noise will stop. Then wait a few months for them to be proficient fliers, and make sure they are all outside, then cap the chimney, and problem solved.

If another type of bird falls down the chimney, you may have to open the damper and let it out through the fireplace.

One of the primary problems that people have is when birds make a home inside their chimney. If you think about it, during the summertime your chimney makes an absolutely perfect location for a bird to set up its own home. The chimney is rarely if ever used, meaning that the birds get a great deal of solitude.

In addition, the chimney provides a great deal of protection to the birds. There is really only one way to get into the chimney, as far as of the birds are concerned, and that is through the upper portion of the chimney. Since very few animals are able to get down the chimney area and into where the birds can be it makes for an absolutely perfect place to protect itself.

For you, however, this is one of the disasters you simply don’t want to have happen. Birds in your chimney can be difficult to get out, and can also create a great deal of health challenges for you. The fecal matter that they drop in the lower portion of your chimney can lead to diseases and parasites seeping into your home and creating a major risk for your family. This is much of a risk for you to bear and requires that you take action to get these birds out of your chimney.

Before taking any action at all, let’s eliminate the number one choice that most people make to try to get rid of birds. For most people the instantaneous thought that comes to their mind is that they will light a fire in the chimney and smoke or burn the birds out of it. Let’s just be frank about this idea - it was a really stupid one!

The potential for disaster goes beyond words. Let’s start with the obvious. When you open up the flume the birds could simply fly into your home and now you have a serious issue. If you thought it was difficult to get them out of your chimney consider how disastrous it would be to try to get them out of your home.

Now let’s add another potential problem. Let’s say when you open up the flume that the birds actually catch on fire and get into your home. Now a small inconvenience becomes a three alarm blaze. This is why this should be the very last thing you should even considering doing. There are significantly better ideas than this.

What you are looking for is a humane way to get them to leave your chimney without risking any damage to your home. The first option to consider is the fact that it is likely that the chimney is inhabited by these birds because the mother bird was using it as a place for her eggs to hatch. Once the birds have emerged from the egg and have grown old enough to be able to live on their own then your problem will likely resolve it. These birds will leave on their own and you will not have any more problems. It just requires you to be a little patient.

If this does not prove to be your solution, then you need to start looking at some other alternatives that can assist you. One of the simplest ways is related to where the nest is within the chimney. Not all birds will build their nest near the very bottom. Some will choose to set up residence further up the chimney area. If this is the case, then you simply go up to the roof and using a chimney sweep you simply pull the nest out of the chimney. Make sure that you are covered well, protecting your skin. You may find as you are attempting to remove the nest that the birds may attempt to swarm around you. You also want to make sure that you are protecting yourself against diseases that the birds may carry. This is why wearing a surgical mask, goggles, clothing, and gloves are essential.

If this is not the situation for you and the nest is closer to the bottom of the chimney, then your next option is to scare it out of the chimney itself. The best thing to do is to scare the birds out of the chimney area by playing a loud noise directly into the fireplace. This will startle them and cause them to flee out.

Once the birds are out, your next important task is to ensure that you cover the chimney so that the birds cannot get back in. There are several screen devices that you can buy that still allow the smoke to get out of the chimney but bar the birds from being able to get back in. This is the best way to protect your home.

What should I do about pigeons in my chimney? Usually pigeons will not roost in a chimney so make sure you have a good look to make sure it's not a different (endangered or protected) bird before taking any action against it. The good news is that once the pigeons have been removed from the chimney, or whatever bird happens to be hiding down there, you can add a chimney guard to the top to stop the birds from gaining access. Whatever you doWhatever modifications you choose to add to your homeyou must make sure you do it when the animals are NOT breeding. Removing a mother without her babies will result in an angry mother that WILL be destructive in her efforts to get back to her babies, or dead / dying babies. Either way it's not a great experience and should be avoided at all costs. That's why I would always recommend hiring a professional to make sure the job is done right. A half job means more work in the long termyou'll need to locate and remove / dispose of the carcasses yourself as well as making sure you remove any waste matter or nesting material. These will continue to carry a threat of disease even when the animal itself has been dealt with.

There is one thing that you definitely should not do if you suspect you have birds in the chimney, and that is to light a fire. Rather than burning or heating the bird out, destroying its nest in the process, there is a chance that you will go on to actually kill the bird or birds… and some of them might be chicks. 

If the birds are stuck, burning a fire will not help to get them out. In fact, it can blow right back in your face, quite literally. If the nest and/or birds have blocked the flue, all of that thick smoke will end up inside your house. 

Professional wildlife removal companies will be able to assist you in removing birds from inside chimneys, along with their youngsters, eggs, and nest. They will then be able to relocate those birds elsewhere, giving them a humane new start in life. 

You could attempt to do the same thing, but it often requires getting up on the roof. Even if you do not need to get on the roof to reach the animals, you will need to get on the roof to ensure that guards are installed and the problem can't return at a later date. If you do not solve the problem, permanently and properly, you may even find yourself faced with a bigger problem than small birds in the chimney.