How to Get Birds Out of Your Chimney

birds sitting on a a chimney

Fluttering and chirping noises coming from inside your chimney may mean there are birds stuck inside. If you don’t want these new tenants to make themselves at home, you need to know how to get birds out of your chimney.

Chimneys provide a warm shelter, which is why birds get drawn to them. And even if you don’t use your fireplace, you wouldn’t want wildlife fluttering around inside your chimney. Luckily, there are several ways to get rid of birds trapped in your chimney.

Ways to Get a Bird Out of the Chimney

When it comes to bird removal, a happy end result is to get the bird safely back outside without injuring or killing it. So, if you don’t want to harm your feathered friends, you can choose any of these options:

Trap the Bird

One solution is to capture the bird with a box and take it back outside. It can be difficult, but if you want to save a frustrated bird from helplessly scrabbling forever for an escape route in your chimney, you can try trapping it in a box by following these steps:

  1. Open the fireplace damper.
  2. Use a box to cover up the fireplace entryway.
  3. Place a flashlight at the bottom of the box and turn it on.
  4. As you wait for the bird to enter the box, stay quiet and silence any noise-making devices. Remove any pets from the room if they are loud or likely to scare the bird away.
  5. When the bird enters the box, slide a lid over its top to trap the bird inside.
  6. Keeping the lid firmly on, take the box outside. Move slowly and carefully when transporting the bird.
  7. Once outside, open the box and let the bird escape back into the freedom of the outdoors.

Another option would be to capture the bird with an old towel. With a towel in hand, slowly and quietly approach the bird. Try to appear as unthreatening as possible. When you are close enough to the bird, gently throw the towel over it. After loosely wrapping the bird in the towel, you can carry it outside.

Once you are outdoors and several paces away from any entrance into your house, unwrap the bird and step back.

Make the Exit Visible

Dark, poorly lit chimneys can be disconcerting for birds and make it difficult for them to find the exit. You can simply make an exit point visible to the bird to help it escape your chimney.

If the bird seems unable to escape from the chimney entrance, it may have to escape through a door or window inside your house. If that’s the case, here are the ways to make them as visible as possible:

  • Open a door or window that the bird can escape through.
  • Turn off the interior lights.
  • Pull shades or blinds over any unopened windows.
  • If it’s nighttime, turn on the patio or outside lights to make the outdoors more visible.
  • Use a flashlight to direct the bird toward the exit.

Shining a flashlight up the chimney will signal an exit. You can leave the flashlight near the bottom of the chimney so the bird can see the light and be drawn toward it. The key is to make the entryway as bright as possible and to darken the rest of the house to help guide the bird to where it needs to go.

Note: Brooms are a handy herding tool you can use to direct and nudge the bird toward the exit.

Make a Loud Noise

birds perched on a chimney
Photo Credit: MarcosMartinezSanchez / Canva Pro / License

Sometimes, simply making a loud noise will be enough to scare a bird out of the chimney. Yell loudly or bang pots and pans to create a loud noise and make the bird fly out of your chimney.

Another noise-maker you could try is an ultrasonic noise emitter. Sound emitters operate on a frequency that only birds can hear. Such noise is designed to scare off birds, which makes it just the thing for frightening birds out of your chimney.

Call Wildlife Removal

Safely removing a bird yourself can be an intimidating DIY job, so if you aren’t comfortable with removing a trapped bird from your chimney, don’t. Instead, call animal control, and they can direct you to a professional animal rehabilitator.

It’s not permitted for homeowners to remove nesting birds, so you must call a licensed professional to safely remove a nesting family of birds. Oftentimes, regular chimney sweep services may not have the necessary license to remove these protected birds, so you’re better off calling a wildlife removal company.

Wait It Out

If you can handle the chirping and flapping noises, you might want to wait it out to see if the birds leave. Here are some reasons why homeowners might want to simply leave birds be:

  • They are losing their natural habitat to deforestation.
  • Nesting birds are temporary visitors and only stay during the warm months.
  • Birds are a source of pest control, as they love to snack on insects.

Although the noise of birds nesting in your chimney can be a nuisance, they are temporary guests who will eventually leave when the nesting period ends. The birds usually leave around 41 to 66 days once the baby birds have grown enough to leave the nest.

Baby birds should be able to make it out of the chimney on their own, but if they are unable to escape your chimney, you may have to help them. Otherwise, call your local wildlife control for professional assistance.

How Do Birds Get Stuck in Your Chimney?

Some birds get accidentally trapped in your chimney and panic when they can’t escape. If you don’t have a chimney cap or crown to cover the top of your chimney, the entrance is exposed, and critters can get in.

Other birds take advantage of any dry, sheltered space to build a nest. And chimneys provide warm niches sheltered from rough winds and storms, protecting birds from predators and giving them a high lookout point.

Remember, do not start a fire if birds are trapped or nesting in your chimney. If you light a fire in the fireplace while a bird is in the chimney, it can injure or kill it.

A common chimney dweller found in eastern North America, chimney swifts like to build nests in the chimney flue. Since the species has suffered a declining population, they’re now protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. This law prohibits homeowners from removing nesting birds or killing protected birds.

Larger species of birds, like barn owls and wood ducks, also can get stuck in your chimney. Due to their size, these big birds may be unable to fly out the top of your chimney, so you’ll have to create a way for them to escape out a door or window instead.

Signs of Birds Nesting in Your Chimney

birds resting on top of a chimney
Photo Credit: Pxfuel

Some homeowners mistakenly assume they have birds in their chimneys when other critters like raccoons, opossums, mice, squirrels, rats, or bats are infiltrating their home through the chimney.

Here are some signs indicating there are birds in your chimney:

  • Noises in your chimney: Trapped birds panic and make a lot of noise (rustling, scratching, chirping, flapping, or clawing) as they attempt to escape.
  • Sighting: A surefire way to detect birds inhabiting your chimney is if you witness them flying in and out of your chimney flue.
  • Bird droppings: Bird droppings littering the bottom of your chimney is a key indicator that birds have infiltrated your flue and made it their hideout.
  • Fallen debris: If you notice nesting materials or feathers suddenly appearing in your fireplace, a chimney swift may be the culprit. As nesting birds flit in and out of your flue, they are bound to leave behind a feather or two. Panicked birds also might lose some feathers as they wildly try to escape.
  • Foul Odor: If a foul smell is coming from your fireplace littered with bird droppings, it’s likely birds are living in your chimney. A decomposing animal stuck in your chimney also leaves behind very unpleasant odors. So, if you smell a foul odor, it might indicate that a bird has died and is decomposing in your chimney.
  • Agitated or excited pets: Pets are better at detecting the presence of animals than people are. Your dog or cat might start behaving strangely around your fireplace if they are stressed or excited by the presence of a bird in your chimney.

If you notice that your pet is unusually agitated or is investigating the area around the fireplace, it can be a sign that wildlife has slipped into your chimney.

How to Keep Birds Out of Your Chimney

Birds and other wildlife are likely to seek shelter in your home during the cold winter months. Some birds might use your chimney as a rest stop, others will go into your chimney searching for shelter and food, and others may get stuck there purely by mistake.

The only thing better than getting a bird safely out of your chimney is not allowing a bird to get inside in the first place. Sometimes, the best defense is a strong offense, so it’s a good idea to take preventative measures. Here are some ways to bird-proof your chimney:

Install Chimney Caps

A chimney cap is essentially a little roof with wire mesh on the sides installed on the crown of the chimney. This protective roof keeps out debris and rain while the wire mesh blocks wildlife entry while still allowing smoke to continue pouring out the top of your chimney. They are designed to protect chimneys from moisture, chilly drafts, and debris.

Purchase a chimney cap with a lot of airflow but also secure enough to hold out against potential fowl invaders.

Add Bird Spikes

If you’ve had repeated instances of birds stumbling into your chimney and want to stop them from breaking and entering in the future, bird spikes can ward off birds.

Bird spikes are blunt, thin steel rods. They are installed in thick clusters on top of a roof or chimney to prevent birds from landing there. With spikes blocking the roof and chimney, it leaves no place for birds to land, and birds will go in search of other resting grounds elsewhere.

Strategically Place Scare Owls

Scare owls are lifelike statues of owls placed on a roof to frighten off birds. Birds will naturally be hesitant to approach the image of a scary predator.

The problem with using scare owls is that after a certain period, they become ineffective. After a while, birds realize the scare owls are nothing but harmless statues. For this reason, you should move the scare owls around your roof if you want them to remain effective.

On the plus side, scare owls are affordable and a quick, straightforward solution to keeping birds away from your roof and chimney.

Keep the Damper Closed

When your fireplace isn’t in use, you should close the damper to block the entryway and prevent unwanted wildlife from slipping into your home.

Your chimney flue is the pipe that carries smoke out of your home whenever you light a fire in the fireplace. The damper is the door between the flue and the fireplace that closes the chimney off from the outside to keep warm air trapped inside. The damper helps keep out:

  • Rain
  • Debris
  • Chilly drafts
  • Wildlife

You should keep your damper closed when not in use but open it again whenever you want to use your fireplace. Otherwise, smoke will pour into your house if it has nowhere else to go.

Use a Bird Repellent

chimney with birds on top
Photo Credit: Scott O’Neill / Canva Pro / License

Certain deterrents ward off birds from using your chimney as a hotel resort. Bird repellent uses chemicals or substances that irritate a bird’s sense of touch and smell. You can buy bird repellent solutions, which are available in different forms such as:

  • Gel
  • Liquid
  • Sticky glue

To ward off invading avians, these can be spread or sprayed on surfaces where birds might roost.

For another alternative, you could make your own homemade bird repellent. Certain ingredients found around your kitchen can help deter birds:

  • Baking soda
  • Garlic
  • Garlic oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Chili pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Vinegar

Typically, homemade bird-repellent solutions can be made by mixing ingredients with water or vinegar and then leaving the mixture to ferment for a few hours. Once the solution is ready, transfer it to a spray bottle and spray it around your chimney.

Use a Sonic or Ultrasonic Repellent

Chemicals aren’t the only kind of bird repellent; noise acts as a deterrent to birds as well. If you want to use sound to keep birds away from your property, you can purchase either sonic or ultrasonic bird repellent.

Sonic bird repellents mimic sounds from bird predators like foxes and eagles. The system activates whenever birds come too close to the sound device.

Ultrasonic bird repellents are more convenient for homeowners since they use high-frequency sounds that humans can’t hear. Although the frequency is indiscernible to human ears, birds hear the sound loud and clear, scaring them away from your roof.

Install a Chimney Screen

You can purchase a chimney screen to prohibit birds from entering the chimney. Screens are a great solution because they let smoke out without letting birds in, so you can still use your chimney while the screen is up.

Dangers of Birds in Your Chimney

Getting birds out of your chimney isn’t just about the bird’s safety; it’s about protecting your safety and health, too.

Animals carry diseases and parasites, and the last thing you want is for them to bring that into your home. There are several risks that birds pose to your family:

  • Nests are a fire hazard. After a bird is removed from your chimney, any bird nests must be cleared from the chimney before you use your fireplace again. Bird nests are built of dry twigs that easily catch fire from stray sparks.
  • Birds carry parasites. Fleas, ticks, and mites are just some of the pests that birds may carry. These are harmful to human inhabitants as well, so you don’t want pest-infested avians in your chimney.
  • Birds droppings are a health risk. Bird dung in your fireplace is a fire hazard and contains bacteria that can lead to disease. If birds have been in your chimney, hire a professional chimney sweep company to do a thorough chimney cleaning.

FAQ About Getting Birds Out of Your Chimney

What Time of Year Do Birds Nest in Chimneys?

The nesting season runs from March to August, so fowl visitors are most likely to pop in looking for shelter during the spring and summer seasons.

How Long Will Birds Stay in My Chimney?

After a bird builds its nest and lays eggs, the incubation period can take 16 to 21 days. Once the baby birds hatch, they usually take an additional 25 to 45 days before they learn to fly and leave the nest.

What Happens if a Bird Dies in My Chimney?

Usually, a bird can’t last much longer than two to seven days stuck in a chimney. Some birds may die in your chimney before you even realize they are there. The best thing to do if you find a dead bird in your chimney is to call a professional animal removal agency. Trained professionals know what they’re doing, and they can safely remove a bird.

If you dispose of the bird yourself, you must wear disposable, sterile gloves when handling deceased wildlife. Bird carcasses often carry diseases or parasites, so never touch a dead bird with your bare hands.

Choose a Swift Solution to Bird Removal

Birds don’t want to stay trapped in your chimney any more than you want them to. So, if you see a bird frantically scrabbling about in your chimney, you’ll want to help the little guy get out as soon as possible.

If you aren’t sure where to start, contact a professional chimney company near you today.

Main Image Credit: Andrew_Howe / Canva Pro / License

Danielle Gorski

Danielle Gorski lives with her family in Texas. She has a degree in Professional Studies and a minor in marketing. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, and writing.