As the weather starts to feel autumnal, now is a good time to start thinking about clearing out nest boxes. Most birds should have stopped using them by now and, legally, from September any unhatched eggs can be removed. (It’s normal for a few eggs not to hatch and blue tits, for example, can lay up to 14 eggs in one brood to allow for this).
Old nests are likely to harbour fleas or other parasites, which could hang around to infest newly hatched birds next year. Clear out any old nesting material and use boiling water to kill any remaining parasites. (Don’t use insecticides or chemicals as they will probably harmful too). Leave the box to dry out thoroughly before replacing the lid. A small handful of clean wood shavings will help to make it homely, perhaps even for small mammals too.
We recommend the RSPB website if you want to read more.
Now is also a good time to put up new nesting boxes, giving birds places to roost and check out potential nesting sites for the spring. Again, the RSPB website has some great advice for where to locate them.