We had birds (blue tits) at who work last year nested in a metal wall mounted cigarette bin, this year we provided a hand-made wooden bird box specifically designed for blue tits and then blocked up the larger holes on the cigarette bin.

The young have since fledged, which is great and you can no longer hear anything inside the box. What time of year should we clean the box out, if at all? Reason to ask is one young bird last year did die (the rest fledged) and was left by the parents however the cigarette bin gets cleaned out by maintenance staff, so the point was moot at the time. This box is not maintained by the same staff but by my work.

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    Check for a second brood, as birds may use the same nest box two or more times in a year.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 11:56
  • We definitely would check for some more chicks before doing anything.
    – Aravona
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


It looks like the answer is to clean them out at least once a year, once the breeding season is over and before winter, which would be around the end of August in the northern hemisphere (or the end of February in the southern hemisphere).

If a species has multiple broods, they can be cleaned out between each one, so long as you wait until after the birds have completely left the nest.

The standard recommendation is to remove the materials and then clean the box with boiling water to kill the parasites.

Also see,

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    That looks like a northern answer; s/August/February/ for the southern hemisphere? Commented May 30, 2019 at 13:24
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    I'd suggest that late August might still be a bit early in northern countries - here in Scotland, we're advised not to trim hedges until September as second broods may still be fledging in August. Commented May 30, 2019 at 13:27
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    @TobySpeight I am sure it depends on the birds some may leave sooner or later, one would probably want to go check before cleaning it out Commented May 30, 2019 at 14:47

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