Many types of swallows can be seen darting above open fields and bodies of water across North America, snatching up bugs and insects or swooping down to skim the surface of ponds for a drink of water. Of the eight types of swallows found throughout the country, two come into frequent contact with humans and are considered nuisances: cliff swallows and barn swallows. Buildings and other manmade structures, such as bridges, inadvertently provide excellent nesting sites for the migratory birds, which has led to a rise in swallow populations over the past few decades.
Due to legal protections, trapping or killing swallows is prohibited, and a permit is required for nest removal in most states, even outside of the nesting season. If large colonies of swallows are posing a threat to personal health or contaminating and destroying property, residents of the infested area should contact a professional wildlife control expert who can implement effective swallow removal techniques in a legally acceptable manner.
Control and Safety
The best method of swallow control is modifying the areas around buildings or bridges where the birds are likely to nest. A fine mesh screen made of wire or plastic and strung across the top of a building from the overhang is an easy solution. Bird spikes are also commonly used to discourage avian pests from roosting on ledges and overhangs. In some cases, completely removing overhangs work to discourage nesting swallows. The birds are usually well accustomed to humans and not easily frightened away.
Are swallows known to enter homes or yards?
Swallows rarely enter houses, but they like to construct their mud nests on the exteriors of buildings that overlook fields and bodies of water, such as barns and warehouses. They only stay through the spring and summer, preferring to migrate to South America during the winter months and return to their nesting sites again the following spring. If yards have sufficient open space, swallows may fly about on the hunt for insects. Barn and cliff swallows rarely land until they return to their nests and are well adapted to hunting and eating in flight.
Do swallows harm people or property?
Neither cliff nor barn swallows harm people directly, but they can pose health hazards in large enough numbers, while their nests can cause damage to property. While barn swallows tend to nest in small groups, cliff swallows may nest in large colonies, which poses serious problems. Nesting sites directly over doorways are hazardous, as swallow droppings can fall on people and make a mess of walkways. Nests situated above machinery or food stores in barns or warehouses can contaminate the valuable items below with both droppings and fallen nest material. Swallows also live with a type of bedbug in their nests, known as the Swallow Bug, which may bite humans and other animals.