When pesky birds get up in your grill

Islanders looking to grill their first steaks of the season might get a surprise when they open their barbecue.

What to do when birds build a nest in your barbecue

Norma Kelly of Mermaid found this bird's nest in her barbecue this week. (Submitted by Norma Kelly)

Islanders looking to grill their first steaks of the season might get a surprise when they open their barbecue.

Norma Kelly of Mermaid found a nest with five blue eggs in her barbecue this week. And Rosemary Curley of Stratford had to evict some starlings from her barbecue before they could get their nest completed.

"I saw them picking up stuff off the lawn so I thought, I'll just watch and see where they go," Curley said. "Darned if they didn't head right for my barbecue."

Starlings are not protected under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and, like birds such as crows, grackles and blackbirds, are considered by many to be invasive pests, said Curley, a retired biologist and president of Nature PEI.

Can cause problems

They can cause problems by nesting in dryer vents, chimneys, eavestroughs and, especially when they haven't been used in awhile, barbecues.

Starlings are considered by many to be invasive pests that can damage farmers' crops. (Royal BC Museum)

There are ways to prevent birds from nesting in your barbecue, Curley said. One is to cover the holes so they can't get in. They like to nest in enclosed spaces, so when she saw the starlings start to build their nest in her barbecue, she simply left the lid open and they lost interest.

If a nest in your barbecue has starling eggs in it, Curley recommends throwing them on the ground or putting them in the compost.

"The starlings will go and find another place to nest and they will re-lay," she said.

Birds will leave a mess

If you don't remove the nest and the eggs, the birds will make an unsanitary mess of your barbecue and leave behind feces.

Unlike starlings, Robins are protected under federal Migratory Birds Convention Act. (Kelly J. Huff/AP Images)

And Curley said if the eggs hatch in your barbecue, it becomes more complicated.

"I don't think anyone wants to deal with starlings after they've hatched — baby birds, that's kind of hard to throw them out."

It's a different story, however, if the birds are robins, swallows or others protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act. You may have to let nature take its course, Curley said, or contact wildlife officials.

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