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A Bird in a Chimney
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Marc asks...

I'm having a problem with birds inside the chimney, particularly in the morning from about 6:30 to 7:30.  I have 2 pre-fab fireplaces, one above the other.  Both exhaust pipes are in one chimney.  Both have vent-free gas logs, so my flues are closed.  I can't see that the birds have built a nest inside the pipes, so I'm not sure where they are inside the structure.  Opening the flues and starting fires hasn't driven them out.  Is there anything I can do to get rid of them?  I don't know what kind of birds they are.

Thanks,

Marc J.



And I wrote back with....

Hello, Marc:

This is a common problem.  Just had the very same thing locally the other week - except with a squirrel.

Since you can't get to them from the inside, the best would be to start from the outside.  That is, find out how they gain entrance and make sure that area is closed off.  That might mean situating yourself outside and watching when they come and go.  Make sure you are out of their territory when you do this, so they don't feel threatened or nervous about you presence.

I don't exactly know where you are, but around here (in NJ) this time of year birds are nesting and these birds are probably building a nest.  If possible, you want to stop them at this point.  If they have baby birds, it might be better to wait until they have fledged and left the nest.

The way to tell this is to watch the birds closely.  If they are bringing sticks or paper, they are building the nest.  If they are bringing in worms and insects then they have babies.  

If they are still bringing in only nesting material, simply block the way they are getting in.  Do it temporarily, first - with newspaper or even a rag.  Wait an appropriate period of time until you are SURE they are out.  Once you are sure, use a permanent material to seal the opening - or you'll have the problem again.

If you can, clean out whatever debris they have brought in.  If you can't do it with your hands, you might be able to snake a vacuum hose in there.  If you have fired up the fireplaces with no problems, you probably don't have to worry about tearing into the area to remove this stuff.  Gas burners in a fireplace have nowhere near the same kind of heat that a regular fireplace puts out.  

Hope this helps.  If there are any other complications, let me know.  And let me know how you made out and what you might have done differently, so I can alter my advice in the future.

Good luck, Marc!


-----------john



A couple of weeks later Marc wrote back....

I finally (I hope) solved my problem.  The house is a two-story and the
chimney is too high for me to handle, so I used a chimney company.  They removed the arrestor cap and were able to remove a large robins' next that was at the top.  Then they lowered the arrestor cap to eliminate the openings.  The robins aren't too happy but they're out of the chimney.  By the way, I'm in Alabama.

Thanks for your response and the advice.

Marc



In retrospect, I guess I should have told him to call a chimney sweep........

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