A swallow lovingly watching you from under the eaves of your barn-style remodelled house might not be such a big problem, quite the contrary, it might just delight your senses. Also, when we gaze upon the agitation of a swallows’ nest built by your neighbour in one of the trees in his orchard, it is not a problem, but a charming sight. Still, what do you do when a family of rapidly multiplying swallows have suddenly made an appearance right on top of the vents under your eaves? The joy of watching such a bird can quickly turn into frustration, the kind that is hard to be rid of. Some might say I am harsh or unloving of nature. I say it is just an opinion.
Swallows are small-sized migratory birds which generally feed on insects. They nest as closely as possible to less forested areas, where they can find an abundance of insects and the moist soil required to build their nests. The places where swallows prefer to build their nests include sheds, roof eaves, vents on the side of walls, beam joints in attics or abandoned hay lofts. At first glance the bird seems harmless. Furthermore, this bird is protected by law in the US and also certain European countries, as it is considered beneficial to society thanks to its high insect consumption levels. This might be for the best, if we consider the increase of insect invasion of our homes, workplaces and leisure areas.
Nevertheless, swallows annually cause great disservice to owners of homes, pole barns, horse stables, grain storage silos or agricultural equipment, even construction material storage spaces. A swallow’s nest is made up of moist soil, gravel, straws and bird down feathers. Building a nest can take up to a week.
The presence of a swallow under the eaves of a house can attract predatory birds that are dangerous to the inhabitants of said house. The materials going into the making of a nest attack the protective layer of the wall, while the faeces produced by the birds become unpleasant and may act as carriers of dangerous disease. Last but not least, a nest fallen on the ground can also be dangerous due to the fact that it can spread ticks, fleas or other perilous creatures among the domesticated animals or inhabitants of the house. Another sensitive issue is the fact that once settled in, the swallow and her family can no longer be easily removed from the premise, one of the reasons behinds this being that we are inclined to be fined by the authorities.
Your old house, remodelled in a barn-style, with a stable and garage at ground level can be a great joy for you and your family. However, if a swallow has settled in under your eaves at the beginning of spring, it is time to make serious plans to keep the bird away, though not by shooting it, as it is a pleasure to watch it and listen to it. There is no need for you to kill it or throw rocks at it, as the action will not solve the problem. Leave it until autumn, when it prepares to travel almost 10 thousand kilometres to reach other locations that will provide it with a climate suitable for its survival. Once gone, remove the nest carefully so as not to cause any damage greater than the previous. Use protective gloves and a scarf tied over your mouth. Do some restoration work and make sure last summer’s swallows will not be able to settle in again, even if you feel badly about it.
There are numerous methods and tools to assist you in your attempt to prevent barn swallows from settling in under the eaves of your house. For instance, there are ultrasound machines created specifically to repel birds. These can be used in urban areas, especially if there are alarm systems which produce loud noises, as well as in industrial environments with storage spaces, where birds trigger volumetric alarm systems or their faeces cause serious damage. These machines keep the birds away from the area you want to protect. The sounds emitted by bird-repellent devices are faintly perceived by humans. Some devices in this category rely on reproducing the hunting song of birds of prey. This method solves the issue of unwanted birds without harming them or any other creatures.
If you have no interest in investing certain amounts of money in modern equipment which can repel damaging birds without direct human involvement, you can use more rudimentary methods, such as: the places preferred for building nests can be fitted with various slippery panels which do not bond with the moist soil; if you have a passion for DIY and enjoy building things, you can apply netting or wrought iron grates, which will serve two purposes – resolving the bird issue and giving your house a rustic feel.
Finally, you should keep in mind that it is easier to prevent swallows from building nests on the walls of your house, rather than fight them off afterwards. Consequently, if you appreciate swallows and truly want to have them around the house, you should put your imagination to work and start building some bird houses for the big families of swallows.