Birds will nest almost anywhere they can find shelter, and a chimney that is not in use provides a warm, secure space to build a nest. Signs you might have birds in your chimney include chirping or scratching sounds and droppings. Sparrows, starlings or pigeons are species most commonly found in chimneys. They pose a significant fire hazard because their nesting material can cover several feet inside your chimney. Removal is necessary to ensure a safe and healthy home.
Remove Nest Material
The most effective way to remove birds from your chimney is to remove the nest if you're able to reach it, and relocate it. This isn't always a simple method, because if eggs have just hatched, you may have to wait for the young to leave the nest to remove it without harming them. Make sure that baby birds are able to leave the nest before trying to remove and relocate it. Removing the birds and leaving the nest in the chimney isn't recommended. The nesting material presents a fire hazard and can block the proper venting of carbon monoxide and moisture.
Smoking out the birds is not an option because the smoke may kill them, but you can make the environment inside unpleasant for the birds by using ammonia. Set a pan in the fireplace and open the damper. The fumes from the ammonia may force them out and you can remove the nest and seal the gaps when they're safely gone. Birds do not typically have a sensitive sense of smell, so this method may take at least two weeks to remove the birds.
Noise is unpleasant to birds. Most birds are sensitive to loud noise and don't like it. Set a radio at a high volume in the fireplace if you have one, or near the opening to the chimney, and play it constantly. This may take anywhere from a week to two weeks to evict the birds. Shine a light up inside the chimney as well, to make the environment inside even more unpleasant, convincing the birds to leave it for a more comfortable location.
Seal Entry Points
Birds can enter the chimney through openings the size of a golf ball and sometimes smaller. When birds have been removed, along with the nest, cap your chimney and seal all vents and gaps with wire mesh. Listen for any scratching or chirping sounds before you seal it permanently. A dead animal in your chimney can result in odor problems and safety issues when your chimney is in use.
Seek Professional Help
If none of these methods works to safely remove the birds from your chimney, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a local wildlife agency or even a chimney sweep. In most cases a chimney sweep can remove the birds without harming them and can cap your chimney properly when finished.
Birds are enjoyable to watch, and using feeders ensures there are a number of birds around your home. They also eat insect pests, making their presence beneficial. Keep birds around your yard, but prevent them from making a home inside your chimney by installing feeders high up on metal poles far away from your roof. Seal all gaps and vents around the exterior of your home and cap your chimney to prevent future nesting.