Barn Swallows migrate from North American breeding grounds to winter sites in Central and South America. Southbound fall migration can start in late June in Florida or early July in Massachusetts. The birds return as early as late January in southern California to mid-May at Alaskan breeding sites. They build mud nests in eaves and overhangs. As a highly protected bird, property owners are encouraged to take proactive steps to prevent them from settling in and building nests, which can be both unsightly and damaging.
Important: Swallows are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act which states that once an egg is laid in a nest, the nest is to remain intact until the hatchlings have left. Avoid hefty fines, call Bird-B-Gone at 1-800-392-6915 for advice or an installer in your area.
Barn swallows typically have a red face, an upper part body covered in blue feathers and a white bottom. They are about 6.5 inches long, weigh just over half an ounce and eat mainly insects. Swallows can be found in fields, meadows and rural areas, often choosing habitats near the water. They will build semicircular nests under eaves, barns, stables, buildings and bridges.
Swallows will leave walls, eaves and fences covered with unappealing mud nests. The nests are not only unattractive but they can permanently damage the surfaces onto which they are built. Swallow nests and droppings may also breed bacteria, fungal agents and parasites, which contain such serious diseases as histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, toxoplasmosis and more. Swallows are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, so it’s illegal to intentionally capture, kill or disrupt these migratory birds or their nests and eggs.
The best way to get rid of swallows is to be proactive and discourage them from building nests in the first place. There are a number of humane options for deterring swallows from landing or nesting on your property. Here are a few steps you can take to get rid of swallows:
• If possible, clean and disinfect any previous nesting areas to remove scents that might be attractive to these birds.
• Install a temporary physical barrier, such as Bird Netting under eaves and overhangs. Install the netting at an angle to block the birds from the protected portion of the wall under an eave or overhang.
• Use Bird Slope to create an additional barrier between the swallow and a desired nesting spot.
• Give the swallows an alternative by installing a swallow nesting box or platform on or near the home.
Remove any food source
• Swallows may be attracted to your garden, lawn area or song bird feeders as a food source. Remove feeders to limit this attraction.
• Remove leftover food on the ground and tables of open-air eateries. Tightly close all trash containers.
• Discourage the feeding of swallows by children or employees.
Swallows are quick and alert to any perceived threats, so scare tactics can be highly effective.
• Sound deterrents such as the Bird Chase Super Sonic play swallow distress calls, letting swallows know the area is not safe to nest in.
• Create a visual distraction zone by hanging Visual Deterrents, such as the Flash Tape, Predator Eye Balloon and Reflective Eye Diverters.
Humane Removal/Professional Installer
If you don’t have the time, resources or expertise to solve your swallow problem, a number of wildlife and pest control companies offer bird control as a service. These professionals can install bird control products and offer other services such as clean-up and humane trap and swallow removal.