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Photo © Al Tuttle

What do I do about birds building a nest in an inappropriate place on my property?

The best advice is to stop this process as soon as it starts. Remove the nest materials by hand or with a hose, making sure not to injure any nearby wildlife. This should be done daily, or even multiple times a day, because this action is only appropriate in the beginning stages of nest building.

If you are in North America, and nesting has already begun and eggs are present, the nest is protected by federal law, which prohibits injury or disturbance to wild birds, their eggs, and young. In this case, try to give the nest plenty of space. If the nest is on or near a highly trafficked area, try the tips below:

  • If the nest is on or near your main entry to a building or home, use a different door to enter and exit your house, if possible.
  • Leave a note for guests or delivery persons not to get too close, if appropriate.
  • If there is only one feasible exit from the building, try to be slow, quiet, and mindful of making sudden movements near the nest.
  • Avoid looking directly at the nest when you pass by; sometimes “ignoring” the nest helps prevent startling the adult off the nest.

Active nests should never be moved, even if it’s just a few feet away. Birds will not recognize that their nest has been moved, and attempting to move a nest could damage eggs or injure young.

Most songbird nests last only about a month once incubation starts, so altering your actions to accommodate the nest should be short-lived. Find incubation and breeding times for common species on our Common Nesting Birds tool.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology