You may have gutter guards on your rain gutters, but that won't prevent a bird from nesting on your downspout returns. Horizontal downspout returns are the part of your rain gutters that hug the underside of the eaves on their way to the house. Downspout returns are the perfect spot for birds to build a nest.
Removing the Bird Nest May Be Illegal
Many birds are considered to be protected wildlife, and removing the nest could be illegal. If you've spotted a native bird nest on your downspout return, check inside the nest for eggs. If the nest has eggs or an adult bird sitting on a brood, it cannot be removed. If you're uncertain what constitutes a "native bird," check with your local wildlife office.
If the nest has been abandoned or if the nest is just now being built and still has no eggs inside, you may be legally allowed to remove the nest. However, it's always a good idea to check with local wildlife officials before taking action.
Removing the Nest
Get rid of the nest as soon as you can. Nests can harbor pests like fleas, and once the nest is no longer in use, those pests may go searching for other hosts around your house.
To protect yourself from pests, wear long sleeves, long pants and garden gloves when disposing of the nest. Pull down the nest and place it inside a plastic bag. Seal the bag and throw it away.
Cleaning the Downspout
After you've removed your nest, you may see bird droppings on the downspout. Bird droppings contain a corrosive chemical called uric acid. Leaving bird droppings on your downspout could contribute to the early decline of your rain gutters, so cleaning the gutters after the nest has been removed is an important step.
To remove the bird droppings, spray the area with a household cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water, then scrub the droppings with a soft plastic scrub brush. When you're finished, spray the downspout with water from a hose.
Bird spikes can prevent birds from returning to your downspout. Spikes are available for sale at home improvement centers and hardware stores. Check the package before buying the spikes to ensure that the spikes you're purchasing are well matched to the size of the bird that you're guarding against. Smaller birds need smaller spikes, and larger birds need larger spikes. The spikes will come with installation instructions; follow the instructions carefully to help ensure effectiveness.
For more information about how to protect your rain gutters from pests like birds, speak with a rain gutter contractor such as Custom Exteriors.