In these tough times, you may not have the budget for removing the unsightly mud nests swallows typically build on building facades. You may also not have the time and money to re-paint your building(s) after the swallows leave ugly splotches on your walls.
Because they like to build their nests in colonies, swallows will leave an unattractive patchwork of mud nests on your building. With that comes all the natural bird debris-- feathers, droppings eggshells--the detritus that attracts insects and other pests. Keep in mind that swallow droppings (or most any bird droppings for that matter) carry diseases that can infect humans. When swallow nests eventually drop to the ground, the bugs, fleas, ticks and mites harboring inside can create an awful mess—one you'll be forced to clean up.
So what to do? The temptation is to take drastic action. To poison or shoot swallows when they arrive. But keep in mind that swallows are classified as migratory insectivorous birds under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Swallows are also protected by many state regulations. In fact, after the birds have started building their nests, you can't disturb them or their nests. Do so and you'll end up paying a fine.
The only thing you can do is be prepared for their arrival with human, non-lethal bird deterrents. A good place to start is to anticipate where swallows are most likely to build their nests—in shady areas under eaves. They will typically construct their nests against a textured surface where mud will stick more easily—like rough-sawn wood, stucco, masonry and concrete.
Here are a few humane suggestions for preparing your building for the Spring swallows arrival:
Bird Netting. This exclusionary method of bird control can be quite effective because it creates a barrier that birds simply can't penetrate. Bird netting comes in a variety of mesh sizes, but you should get the smaller, 3/4-inch mesh size to keep swallows out. In most cases, you'll be installing the netting outside, which means, you should get durable netting that lasts. Choose U.V. stabilized, flame resistant and rot- and water-proof netting. One brand of bird proof netting currently available can tolerate severe temperature extremes--from 250-degree Fahrenheit to "sub-zero" temperatures. Non-conductive netting is available for installations where electrical conductivity or radio frequency interference could cause problems. The best bird proof netting meets ISO 1806 protocols. Remember to hang bird netting from the outer edge of the eave of your building down to the side of the wall creating a 45-degree angle.
Bird Slope. Swallows just can't get a grip on these angled, slippery PVC panels. And if they can't get a solid footing, they'll leave in search of better surfaces to build their mud nests. Bird slopes are easily installed on ledges, eaves, beams and other areas. U.V. protected and sun and weather resistant, the panels provide anti-perching, anti-roosting protection against swallows. Mounted upside down with special mounting clips, bird slope typically comes 4-foot long panels and you usually get 48 feet per box. Some panels have a "snap-on" extender, allowing them to adapt more readily to wider ledges and coverage areas. End caps are also available to keep swallows from getting behind the sloped panel. Bird slope panels typically come in two colors--stone and grey--to better blend in with your structure's color scheme.
Sound deterrents. Sound deterrents are a great choice for deterring swallows from choosing your structure, and are more effective the sooner you install them. If a bird establishes a nesting spot, and has time to settle in, the more persistant they will be about defending the territory. Sound deterrents that use recorded bird distress calls in conjunction with predator calls can very effectively relate to birds that there is danger in the area and its unsafe to nest. Devices such as the Bird Chase Sonic are weather proof and can cover large open areas between 1-5 acres.
Bird control methods and products are most successful when installed as soon as a problem with birds is noticed, or installed in anticipation of birds returning. If your building has been chosen as a nesting site in the past, there is a very good chance the swallows will return in spring. The sooner the problem is addressed the less time and money it will take to successfully keep them away. If you are unsure what products to choose, or do not have the staff for installation, there are pest control companies across the U.S. who specialize in “Bird Control” and can help.