There are two types of swallows that can be considered a pest in the United States, the Cliff Swallow and the Barn Swallow. The birds and their nests are quite different from each other, but the mess they leave behind is very similar. Both types of swallows build their mud nests almost exclusively on human-made structures such as under eaves of homes, under bridges and docks, in barns and other areas that provide shelter and freedom from predators. Regardless of which type of swallow is a pest on your property, there are ways to humanely get rid of them.
Barn swallow nests are a cup shape with an interior that contains an inner cup lined with grass, hair and feathers. They almost always build nests on eaves, bridges, docks and other man made structures that have a ledge to support the nest, a vertical wall to which it can be attached and a roof. Barn swallows nest in single pairs.
Cliff swallow nests are gourd shaped and also contain the inner lining of grass, hair and feathers. Their nests are build on vertical walls, natural or man-made, frequently with some sort of shelter or overhang. Freeways, bridges, barns and other large buildings are used regularly by the cliff swallow to build its nest. Cliff swallows nest in colonies that may contain a dozen to over 500 nesting pairs.
How to Keep Swallows Away
Exclusion is the best method of deterring pest swallows. You must make it impossible for the birds to build their nests. There are several methods of exclusion that can be used.
- Bird Netting: A plastic bird netting with a 3/4“ mesh can be hung from the outer edge of the eave of the home down to the side of the wall creating a 45 degree angle. This will keep the swallows from getting into the favored sheltered space under the eaves of homes and buildings to build their nests. Note: Install the netting before the swallows arrive. It may be left up all year or taken down after the nesting season.
- Slippery Slope Panels: The Bird Slope product available from Bird B Gone, creates a smooth surface under the eave of your home so that the swallows are not able to “stick” their nesting material to it. These products are generally made of a PVC plastic that is attached under the eave with adhesive. Creating a slick surface on the nesting walls will discourage the birds and they will look elsewhere to find a good nesting spot.
- No Nasty Nest: is a new swallow bird deterrent product on the market that uses a ne clear wire attached to a clear Plexiglas base that is ready to adhere to the eaves of your home or business. The swallows will not y through this “distraction” and therefore will not build their nest in areas protected by swallow guard.
The best advice to keep swallows off of your home or commercial building is to do something before the swallows arrive. Put up netting, bird spikes, slippery panels or other means of deterring nest building before the swallows begin to build. Once the birds arrive and start building their nests, it is nearly impossible to get rid of them. Some will try to hose down the nests as they are being built to no avail; which is also illegal. The swallows are tenacious birds and will just keep building and building if the spot is ideal for them. You must also be aware of the laws that protect these birds; you do not want to be ned!