How To Get Rid Of Birds In A Chimney (Quickly & Easily!)

Dennis Howard
by Dennis Howard

Suspicious noises in your chimney are often a good cause for alarm. Your chimney may be the homey for birds or bats. Both birds and bats find chimneys almost perfect housing. The most common source of those noises is the common chimney swift. How do you get rid of birds in your chimney?

There are several ways to discourage birds from nesting in your chimney. Prevention is the best policy. Chimney caps and screens deny the birds a way into the chimney. If you have established nests, your only option may be to wait until the end of the nesting season. Consulting with a professional chimney sweep is often the best option.

If chimney swifts are your problem, you cannot simply remove the nests. Migratory birds enjoy the protection of Federal law. Prevention is the best method of solving a bird or bat problem in your chimney. Depending on your chimney and roof, you might add a chimney cap and screen to solve your bird or bat problem.

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Are They Birds or Are They Bats?

Surprisingly, bats in a chimney sound like birds. Roosting bats make audible chirping sounds as they rest during the day. These sounds are like baby birds. The first challenge is to decide whether you have birds or bats roosting in your chimney.

Nighttime Surveillance: Watch your Chimney

The easiest way to determine if you have birds or bats is to watch your chimney just at dusk. Bats are easy to spot as they exit a chimney to begin their nighttime feeding. If you can situate yourself where the sun’s last rays backlight the chimney, the bats are easier to see.

The Signs of Birds: Do a Little Detective Work

Birds leave tell-tale signs when they are nesting. A little detective work can give you clues if you are observant. Look for some of these clues that you have birds nesting in your chimney

  • Birds entering and leaving a chimney make some distinctive sounds. Open the chimney flue and listen closely. If you hear rustling or scratching followed by the chirping of baby birds, you have nesting swifts.
  • Watch your chimney. Birds that are tending chicks in a nest make frequent trips in and out of the chimney. The nesting pair are easy to spot as they leave and return to feed the growing baby birds.
  • Nesting materials may fall down your chimney and land on the flue. If sticks, twigs, paper, or other debris falls into your fireplace when you open the flue, you may have birds.

What Kind of Birds Do You Have in your Chimney?

If you do have birds, you must know what kind of birds before you begin any process to remove the birds and the nests. Identifying bird species can be difficult and may require the help of professionals. Don’t disregard this requirement.

Chimney swifts are the usual bird found nesting in chimneys. Swifts are migratory and are protected by the Migratory Bird Act of 1918.

If You Have Swifts What You Can and Can’t Do

Because chimney swifts are a protected species, you have limited options in getting rid of them from your chimney. In most instances, professionals will advise you to leave the birds until they migrate in the fall. Once the birds leave, you can clean the chimney and install chimney caps and screens to prevent the birds from returning.

Create a Racket: Make Life Miserable for the Birds

One way homeowners can remove birds from a chimney is to convince them to move on their own. One legal way to do this is to make enough noise that the birds leave. Banging pots or pans in the fireplace is one good method. If you have a metal chimney, you can rap carefully on the metal flue pipe to encourage the birds to relocate.

Contact a Bird Rehabilitation Specialists

Federal law does allow moving protected birds and nests. A trained and usually licensed bird rehabilitation specialist or center must perform this task. If there is an animal rehabilitation center in your area, contact them for more information. Do NOT try to remove the nests, birds, or chicks yourself.

Don’t Try to Smoke Out the Birds

Attempting to smoke the birds from your chimney is cruel and inhumane. The smoke and heat almost always kill the birds and the chicks. Remember, these are protected birds and if you endanger them in any way, you have broken federal laws.

What Should You Do Once the Birds are Gone?

Once the birds are gone from your chimney, you should call a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney. Cleaning and inspecting a chimney are jobs that are beyond most homeowner’s capabilities.

A professional sweep has the tools and equipment to do this job correctly and cleanly. Most chimney sweeps will clean your chimney from top to bottom, inspect the flue, the chimney’s exterior, the firebox, and hearth for around $100.

If you have had a problem with birds nesting in your chimney, the sweep will usually suggest installing a chimney cap and screens. Having the sweep do the installation while cleaning your chimney doesn’t add that much more cost to the job.

Installing a Chimney Cap Yourself

It is possible to install a chimney cap yourself. The job of installing a chimney cap is not exceedingly difficult. However, accessing the chimney can be a challenge and must be done with great care. If you decide to install a chimney cap, these steps should help you with the project.

Step 1: What Kind, Style, and Size of Chimney Cap do you Need?

You may need to take a trip up on the roof to measure the flue and see exactly what kind of flue you have in your chimney. Take pictures of the flue if possible. Once you know the size and type of flue, visit your local fireplace store to find the correct chimney cap for your installation.

Step 2: Get the Chimney Ready

Before installing the new chimney cap, you should make sure the chimney is clean and in good repair. The best method for this is to hire a professional chimney sweep. Make any repairs to the flue, firebox, or exterior of the chimney before installing the new chimney cap.

Step 3: Get ready for the Installation – Think Safety

Before you go up on the roof, make sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies to finish the installation in one trip. Most accidents while working on a roof occur when going up or down the ladder. Minimizing the number of trips on the ladder is the key to a safe project.

Check your ladder for proper operation and situate it properly. Wear your safety equipment, such as eye protection and gloves. Non-slip soles on your shoes are another good idea. Use a small bag to carry your tools and supplies.

Step 4: Performing the Installation

Once on the roof, arrange your tools and supplies to minimize your movements on the roof. Have everything close at hand. The less you move around on the roof, the less chance of slips and falls.

Install the chimney cap according to the manufacturer’s directions. Chimneys come in a wide variety of styles and types are each has its usual method of installing a chimney cap. Follow the directions exactly to prevent problems that could result in fires or other catastrophic events.

The Other Benefits of Chimney Caps

Beyond keeping birds and bats from turning your chimney into a condo, chimney caps perform several other useful functions.

  • Chimney caps prevent snow and rain from entering your chimney. Rain and snow can have devastating effects on the inside of your chimney. If you have a clay flue, rain entering a hot clay flue can cause the tiles to crack. Water in a metal flue pipe is an invitation to corrosion that can leave your flue weakened.
  • Properly sized and installed chimney caps can help your chimney work better. Open flue pipes may not draw out smoke and gases as well as they should. A properly sized and installed chimney cap can aid in the draft process key to chimney operation.
  • Downdrafts are a problem with some chimneys. Wind from certain directions can reverse the flow of gases out of the chimney, pushing them back into your home. Often a good chimney cap is a solution to the problem of downdrafts.
  • Sparks and embers up the chimney can be a danger to your home and your neighbor’s home. Chimney caps cha help reduce the number of live embers that escape from your chimney.

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Be Critter Friendly and Safe with Your Chimney

Birds or other animals in your chimney create a lot of problems. In the long run, preventing birds or bats from invading your chimney is the best course of action. There are immediate remedies if you have birds in your chimney, but they can be expensive and difficult. Adding a chimney cap is both safer, more environmentally friendly, and a permanent solution.

We hope that this article has given you insight into the problems you are having with birds in your chimney. Remember to be safe with your projects and have fun.

Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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