How To Handle A Birds Nest In Your Dryer Vent

A dryer vent takes the warm, moist air from your dryer and moves it outside. This is good news for your home: it keeps moisture out to prevent mildew and mold. However, it also creates an attractive nesting space for birds — a warm, hidden portal that's just the right size.

A bird nest in your dryer vent creates a ventilation problem and a potential fire hazard. The bird droppings can also damage the paint or siding of your house. So, you should address this issue sooner rather than later. However, since wild animals are involved, you'll need to consider what's safe, humane, and legal as you plan to remove the nest. 

The first step is to observe the situation. Birds are most likely to nest in your dryer vent in the spring, although you could notice an abandoned nest at any time of year. If you see plant matter coming out of the vent, birds flying in and out, or bird sounds inside the area, it's time to make a plan for removal.

Removing the nest yourself

First, it's important to ensure that the nest is empty. Otherwise, you could be breaking the law by moving an occupied nest: many birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Listening, observing, and even shining a flashlight into the vent can help you determine whether or not the nest is being used. You may need to remove the vent cover first to look inside.

Before moving an abandoned nest, put on gloves as a precaution. This will protect you from any parasites or diseases the birds may have been carrying. Kitchen tongs can help you remove the nest if it's hard to get your hands in there. Take the nest and put it close by, in a bush or tree. This gives the birds the option to reuse the nest, although this is fairly uncommon. Lastly, use a handheld vacuum to clean the vent before replacing the cover.

If the nest hasn't been fully built yet, you may be able to use a leaf blower from inside the house to clear the debris. However, this requires you to detach the vent hose from inside your house, which may make this a bit challenging. If it's tough to get the vent space clean, consider having a professional do it for you to eliminate the fire hazard.

Problem-solving and prevention

If the nest is empty, you can safely and gently remove it yourself. If you discover that it's occupied with baby birds or unhatched eggs, you'll need to either wait for the birds to fledge or call a professional for help. 

You can hang dry your clothes until the birds leave their nest — usually a process of two or three weeks — but it can be annoying to live without a dryer for that long. Instead, consider contacting a local wildlife rescue or rehabilitation organization. They can safely and legally help with removing an occupied bird nest. Try the Humane Society's state-by-state listing to find help near you.

If you live in an area with few nesting options, birds nesting in your dryer vent could become a recurring problem. To prevent future hassle, try installing a bird-proof vent or vent cover, which will keep you, wild birds, and your home safe.