April rain indeed brings May flowers. But do you know what else May brings?
It is barn swallows.- a bird pest notorious for damaging farms, warehouses, and other buildings they find themselves.
Barn swallows, like other bird pests, are not just restricted to the nuisance they cause. Their presence can also pose a severe risk to human health and properties. For instance, they are known to cause food poisoning, viral infections, and respiratory issues. The barn swallows droppings can result in hours of constant cleanup.
Suppose the infestation is left unchecked for a long time. In that case, the pest birds can render business owners lots of sleepless nights, causing damage worth tens of millions of dollars to property annually.
All these combined show that you need to learn how to get rid of barn swallows immediately.
Fortunately, this article opens your eyes to bird pest behavior, which helps you better understand how to get rid of barn swallows.
Now, let’s dive in!
The barn swallow is adorned in sparkling cobalt blue back, wings, and tail. Its creamy beige underpart is easily noticeable and is often darting smoothly over corrals, fields, and open water.
This bird has a rust-colored – or light brown – throat and forehead. However, the juveniles and females are not as boldly colored as the mature males.
The barn swallow’s tail is covered with long feathers, setting it apart from other swallows in North America.
Besides this, a barn swallow also has long wings and can grow up to within 5- 7 inches in body length. However, its wingspan can grow from between 12.5 inches to 13.5 inches.
Feeding and Behaviour
A barn swallow feeds on flying insect prey such as flies, crickets, grasshoppers, moths, and beetles. Sometimes, it trails behind farm tractors in search of insects that are plowed up. And it is not uncommon to see the barn swallow catching insects on the flight with their gaping mouths.
The barn swallow is an agile flier which is evident in how it turns and dives in the air. But it also skims the water surface to drink while in flight. Frequently, the barn swallow could be seen a few meters above the water or ground.
And just as its name implies, it builds its nests mostly on human-made structures.
During their breeding season, you can watch out for mud pebbles since Barn swallows often come to the ground to gather up mud and grass as materials to build up their nests. Most times, swallow nests are seen tucked under barns’ eaves.
Barn swallow’s life cycle and how do they reproduce?
Once the birds are back to their breeding grounds, pairs are formed during the spring. They build swallow nests from plant and mud materials, which are securely fastened to the barn wall or the underside of a bridge.
It’s relatively hard for these bird pests to carry mud in their little claws. As a result, the males scooping up mud in their bigger beaks for the females. A swallow can lay an average of four eggs, and these are incubated for about 14 days.
Once these eggs hatch, the parents feed their nestlings. Often, while betting for food, they chirp. Soon, they begin to fly after three weeks.
What will keep barn swallows away?
It has already been established that Barn swallows are a common nuisance. Their droppings, loud chirping, and feathers can be hard to deal with.
In response, people have devised several humane pest control methods to keep a swallow away over the years. Some of the swallow control methods are:
1. Employ the use of sound deterrent
Whenever you resort to getting rid of barn swallows, a sound deterrent is a good option. The device uses the bird’s instincts to keep them away from a specific area.
These sound deterrents come in various forms, and each one employs different sounds to frighten these birds. Some of the sounds you can use to keep swallows away from your property include:
- Recorded predator calls
- Ultrasonic sound waves
- Recorded bird distress calls
An advantage of using sound deterrents way to get rid of swallows is that they require low maintenance once they are set up.
However, the drawback of this method is that these sounds can become annoying, and the birds can grow tolerant of the noise over time, reducing their effectiveness in the process.
2. Set up bird barriers
Barn swallows build their nests in the same area every year. So, another effective way to get rid of the bird is to establish barriers that show that the place is off-limits to them.
The barriers can be made of different materials, including bird netting, sheet metal, or potted plants
3. Use liquid bird repellent spray
It is safe to affirm that the most proactive method of keeping away barn swallows is prevention.
Instead of scaring them away on arriving at your property, these repellents can stop them from ever arriving at all.
Repellent drive away swallows from your space by irritating their sense of smell and taste. However, you must be sure that these products are mild before purchasing them, so they don’t poison crops and people.
4. Provide alternative habitats
Usually, swallows seek refuge in barns to protect their nestlings, especially during the colder periods.
So a good way to keep them from taking over your barn is to provide an alternative habitat somewhere else on your property.
This can be any of the following:
- Nest platforms and birdhouses
- Small bowl-shaped materials attached to a wall, contributing to artificial nests
- Birdhouses are built like barns, i.e., larger structures that resemble a barn.
Regardless of what you choose, it would be best if you placed these habitats far away from busy doorways and not too far away from a source of mud that the swallows can build their nests with. When you shelter these birds to stay in, they will more likely stay away from your barn.
Most times, these solutions might be insufficient or not ideal in dealing with these bird pests. As such, choosing a repellent might be a better solution.
How do you get rid of barn swallows?
The way barn swallows darts and flies around gracefully could be a joy to watch.
However, this feeling will fizzle out when you start seeing their droppings and mud nests all over your space.
Luckily, several methods can help you get rid of barn swallow if you’re experiencing an infestation. These include:
1. Set up a bird deterrent flying kite
If what you need is a preventive measure for barn swallows, you can use something that will frighten these pest birds off immediately without even resorting to an extreme measure. A great way to accomplish this is to set up a bird deterrent flying a kite. When you attach it securely to a surface, then you can let it float in the sky on windy days.
When barn swallows see something huge and unnatural moving haphazardly in one area, they associate the place with danger. This principle ensures that any old kite should do the trick. However, it does not stop there.
The right flying kite will likely be designed with several characteristics that will keep Barn swallows away. The kite is often shaped like a huge bird of prey and adorned with colors associated with predators.
2. Scare barn swallows with lasers
If you wish to get rid of barn swallows completely, a great option is to employ a swallow-deterring laser device. This gives off a strong, glistening laser light that could move in any pattern. The strength of the light ensures that it can cover a significant area.
You might ask yourself how a bit of light can remove swallows from your home. It is quite simple. When birds see random and unpredictable movement from a moving object, they tend to stay away. As a result, swallows are very cautious.
In addition, it is easy to install these devices. You can face them in any given direction you expect the swallows to show up. Yet, if you’re worried about its effect on your electricity bill, many of them come with a controlled setting that allows you to adjust how often the device emits light.
3. Set up barn swallows bird spikes
It is not strange that all birds, including barn swallows, like resting on perches after their energy-sapping business of flying around. If the area has no rest, it is safe to suggest that they will never see the place as a potential home.
If you wish to remove barn swallows from your property successfully, you can set up bird spikes in strategic areas. The jutting out of the rod from the ledges ensures that the pest birds don’t perch comfortably.
It is quite simple to set up since they usually come in short segments, with about three spikes on them. Also, you can either choose to space them apart to cover a large area or keep them close together.
4. Ensure that you wash away all mud nests as often as possible
Another good method of getting rid of swallows and keeping them from building nests is washing these barns’ swallow nests before they are completed. It must also be stressed that you should only make attempts to remove a swallow nest once you are sure that no eggs or baby swallows are present in them.
It would help if you never forgot that swallows are protected by federal law, and touching any nest that contains eggs or chicks in them will require a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Also, if you wish to wash away the mud nests, it is advisable that you first check the local laws that govern swallow nest removal. This is because, in some states, it is illegal to tamper with an empty nest.
5. Establish an owl scarecrow
You do not have to rack your brain over how to get rid of swallows. You can use their fear against them. These are little birds that may fly quickly to avoid predators. However, they lose that advantage once their predators can fly too. This is the main reason that these birds are really scared of owls and other birds of prey.
Furthermore, A scarecrow will scare off barn swallows when it is used properly. It would help if you always remembered that these birds are not frightened by owl statues but actual owls. Moreover, you can take full advantage of an owl scarecrow by making it as realistic as possible. A decoy scarecrow provides a great option. It should be in 3D and adorned in the natural colors of an owl.
It should have a sensor that can detect any form of movement from about 5 meters away. This will initiate the natural owl sounds that will imitate those of a genuine predator. It should be solar-powered.
However, even with these great features, the swallows will most likely catch up if the owl scarecrow stays in a place forever. Because of this, you must constantly change the position of this decoy every 5 to 6 days if you wish to get rid of barn swallows from your space effectively.
6. Get rid of their food sources
Besides their nesting, another source of attraction that could drive barn swallows to your property is if they find a constant supply or source of food closeby. Now, to get rid of barn swallows, you will not just have to make the nesting so difficult for them, but you will also need to remove any assuring food source that keeps them in your space.
It has already been mentioned earlier that barn swallows often feed on flying insects, including moths, bees, wasps, butterflies, and many more.
That is because swallows feed mostly in flight. If you are not so eager to remove them, it might bring you some fascination watching them take a bike in the air.
Then, it is safe to affirm that you can control these barn swallows when you control the insects on your property. Whenever you perceive the buzzing of insects around you, that should be the right time to get rid of them. Without a constant food source close by, these birds will naturally move away from your home.
The control method you choose will depend on the type of insects – which a barn swallow feeds on – that you have on your property. However, you must ensure that this preferred method targets the insects and not the birds. As a result, you must avoid any toxic chemicals that can be harmful to animals.
7. Keep Barn swallows away with reflection
It would be best to remember that barn swallows are migratory birds and are protected by the law. Harming one is a crime. Another way to keep these birds away without harming them is by harnessing the power of reflection.
It must be said that a barn swallow can be easily frightened by abrupt movement even if this happens to be a reflection of itself in flight. When a reflective surface catches the light, a sudden flash is produced, which can scare them.
Furthermore, this method is easy to adopt, and you can install them by yourself. You can use old CDs or small mirrors. Then, hang them using a string, and place them strategically in positions you know they nest. Most likely, this will scare them away. Another good option you can consider is using a set of bird deterrent reflective spirals designed to catch wind and light.
Will Vinegar deter barn swallows?
Yes, vinegar can scare them away. You can consider using apple cider vinegar, chili peppers, and water to prepare a homemade bird repellent spray to keep these barn swallows from your home.
Since these birds cannot be harmed or killed, scaring them away is the only option once you find their presence unwanted.
Generally, to eliminate all forms of bird activity in your yard, spray this homemade repellent spray on your plants and other areas where the birds tend to gather to keep them at bay.
What are swallows scared of?
There are many things barn swallows are scared of. As already mentioned earlier, a barn swallow gets deterred when it sees any form of sudden, erratic movement of something huge in one area as it immediately associates such places with danger.
The sight of a predator can also scare them off. But, it does not stop there, as you can equally use a liquid bird-repellent spray to scare swallows away. This spray achieves this by irritating their sense of smell and taste.
Finally, a sound source from a recorded natural predator is an effective bird control method to repel swallows.
Many birds, including barn swallows, possess several admirable qualities. While it can be said that they are sometimes a joy to behold as they dart gracefully across the field or snatch a bite in flight, their presence can quickly become annoying when they start polluting your property with their droppings and high-pitched noises.
Indeed, barn swallows are very proactive in the way they creep on properties. The birds can build a nest in your house within 24 hours if it provides a constant source of food and they find shelter. A barn swallow infestation becomes bothering because the bird tends to migrate back to the same space every year.
This is why you need to seek safe yet effective swallow control methods.
Luckily, you can employ some of the humane pest control methods listed above to repel barn swallows from your house. You can equally install repellents to scare them.
Emphasis is placed on humane pest control methods and repellents because these migratory birds are protected under the laws of certain countries, and you must never kill them intentionally.