The Dangers of Birds Nesting in Your Chimney
In 30 years of chimney sweeping, few phrases used to strike more cold into my heart than the words ‘I’ve got a bird’s nest’. As a chimney sweep, I know EXACTLY what that can entail, which is why we always tell people, “If there is any risk of your chimney being seen as a des res by the local jackdaw population, do please get a bird guard fitted as soon as possible after we have swept it, and if at all possible, do it the same day, best of all have the builder there and ready to put it on as soon as we have finished sweeping the chimney.”
Least you think I exaggerate, we had just finished removing a nest after a long hard chimney sweeping session, and I looked around, and saw no builder. I queried this, but the householder said that the builder would be round the next day, and that would be OK, because she would light the fire and keep them at bay.
Sure enough the next day we got a call. No sooner had we finished but the displaced jackdaws, furious at their eviction had worked hell for leather to get the nest rebuilt despite the fire being alight, and so we were booked in for another chimney sweeping session. This time as we finished, the builder was standing there, bird guard in hand.
Bird’s nests aren’t funny. They can be very dangerous, as when they block the chimney off, that will fill the living space with fumes. On more than one occasion, I have gone to a house where the occupants nearly died from monoxide poisoning, and have pulled out a nest with fat happy young jackdaws looking at the chimney sweep and wondering what all the fuss was about.
Bird guards need to be chosen with care. They must be made of stainless steel if they are to have any decent lifespan, – but they can be painted with powder coating to match the terracotta colours of chimney pots. Get an approved chimney sweep. An approved chimney sweep will be able to warn you of the potential pitfalls, and explain which devices simply must not be used, as they can be more of a danger to you than a jackdaw’s nest!