Swallow's nest with text: How to prevent swallows from nesting on your property

How To Prevent Swallows From Nesting On Your Property

Natural spaces have been invaded by pest birds for a very long time. So much so that some species now dwell among us. This can sometimes lead to issues we have to deal with – such as swallows nesting in our yard or window.

The nest of a swallow in our yard can be quite a lot to deal with. When it’s time to get rid of them, you have to be careful to not hurt them or their eggs. We want to prevent them from nesting in a particular place, not harm them.

Therefore extra care needs to be taken when getting them away from our properties. How can you effectively do this without hurting them? In this post, I will be sharing with you a detailed explanation of what swallows are, how you can identify them, and possible methods to prevent them from nesting in your space.

Let’s start with what they are and how to identify them.

What are swallows?

Swallows are migratory songbirds that build their nest primarily out of mud. These birds make their homes in North America and migrate to Central and South America for the winter. They can start heading south as early as June and make their way home as early as January.

Two species which normally cause trouble to humans by building their nest in their property include cliff swallows and barn swallows.

Most swallows build their nest around water or cavities of trees. Barn and cliff swallows love their nests on vertical structures. The sides of people’s houses, windows, sheds, and barns are some of the best places for them to build their nests.

Swallows are more active in the morning and evening. During these times they fly around more, either eating or playing with one another. Swallows can easily be mistaken for bats, especially when it gets dark.

How can you identify a swallow?

A swallow’s presence can easily be identified by the shimmer of its rainbow-colored feathers. Other important methods of identification include:

  • Body – Swallows have a long, tiny and simplified body with long, spiked wings
  • Head – It has a small head and a short beak that is quite strong
  • Tail – A swallow has a square-ended or forked tail
  • Legs – It has short legs
  • Color – Most species are mostly white on their stomachs and bright grass-like green on their backs
Swallow sitting on rope

Are they protected?

Every swallow is protected by state and federal regulations under the “Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918”. This means the act of removal is punishable by law. It is illegal for any person to injure, kill, sell, purchase, or take possession of the birds or their eggs.

Without a permit, it is illegal to intentionally destroy its nest, kill its offspring, or take its eggs. The law protects every adult swallow that is occupying a half-built or an already built nest.

A permit is not needed to remove an abandoned nest or one that’s not occupied by an adult, its eggs, or its offspring. Only the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services give the permit for the nest of a swallow to be removed or for it to be killed. This can only happen in extreme cases. For instance, the permit would be given if the swallow nest presents a threat of damage to an aircraft. Damages to residential buildings might not get the permit needed to destroy the nest unless life is at a risk.

The best way to avoid any legal issues with a swallow or its nest is to simply prevent them from nesting in your yard.

Can you still deter swallows?

Yes. Swallows cause a lot of issues to humans, hence a lot of people don’t want them or are trying to get rid of them. Deterring swallows from nesting on your property is the best way to prevent any legal issues.

Why should you stop them from nesting?

Their droppings contain a large amount of uric acid, which can stain the paint of a house wall or surface finishes. The cost of washing, repainting, and nest removal could be quite a lot and time-consuming.

They carry fungal agents and bacteria that can cause major health risks. Trip hazards could be the result of a continuous build-up of a swallow’s dropping. There’s also the awful smell from their droppings, especially if it is on your window.

These all make for important reasons why preventing them from coming to your property is important.

Tips & tricks to deter swallows

Below are some tips and tricks you can use to deter these pesky songbirds.

1. Safety nets

This is by far the most common way used to stop swallows from nesting in a particular space. Protect the areas where they nest with a safety net.

When the bird can’t find space to nest they will look for somewhere else. This method is very effective. I’d recommend you make use of 19 mm meshes due to the size of the songbird.

Black safety net

2. Anti-perching spikes

Anti-perching spikes are mostly used to deter pigeons, but they are also effective in preventing swallows from nesting in a particular space.

Since it is for swallows, I’d recommend you install them just underneath the roof, on the top of your wall since swallows are known for building their nest around these areas.

To know more about which spike to get, you should talk to the seller about the intended purpose, or you can check out this page on the best bird spikes for some good options. That way you get the right one.

3. Transparent thread

Using a transparent thread such as a fishing line will cost you less money, while stopping swallows from nesting in your space. It is a cheap and effective method.

The swallows will sense danger when they see a thread, and they most likely won’t want to come close for fear of being trapped.

Getting it set up is fast and very easy. If you place the thread near roofs or balconies, I’d recommend you stretch it from one end of your wall to the other. Leave a space between the wall and the thread.

Swallows will be scared to come close to the thread and will look for somewhere else to nest away from your building.

Close-up photo of blue thread
Blue Thread

4. Shiny object

Another effective way to prevent swallows from nesting on your property is to make use of shiny objects. Birds are naturally scared of shine and foil is the best economical way to go.

All you need to do is to cut strips of aluminum foil 1 foot (30 cm) long and 1.25 in (3 cm) wide. After cutting, spread them on a rope and extend from one end of the wall to the other. When a bird sees the shine from the reflection of sunlight they’ll get scared and fly away fast.

You could even use other shiny tools for this, like an old CD or DVD.

5. Repellent gel

This is arguably the most used method for preventing birds from building their nest on a property. The repellant gel will not allow the mud from the swallow to stick successfully. The gel can last for years and you won’t have to worry about it.

It is also used to stop perching on the railing of balconies and windows by pigeons and other birds. It is a very effective method to prevent swallows from building their nest on a building.

For effective results, the gel should be spread just below the ceiling, about 3 inches (8 cm) down on the wall.

6. Ultrasound device

This method should be used when all other methods listed above have proven to be unsuccessful.

You will have to visit a specialist shop and buy an ultrasound device that is used to deter swallows from nesting on a property. An expert from the store will be able to give you more information on how to use the device, its effectiveness, and where specifically to place it.

7. Flying Kite

If you are looking for a fast method to deter swallows from your property, then getting a flying kite to scare them away is one of the best options available.

This procedure is very simple and effective. Just install a bird deterrent flying kite on the ceiling of your building and allow it to fly freely.

When a swallow sees the kite flying erratically, they will probably sense that place to be dangerous and therefore won’t want to come close to those areas again. This is a very effective and very cheap method. An old kite will get the job done perfectly.

Brahminy kite flying in sky in daytime

8. Wash out their nests frequently

One of the most effective ways to prevent a swallow from nesting in your yard is to simply wash away their nest frequently before they get fully built.

Note that before you attempt to wash away a swallow’s nest you must make sure that there’s no egg or any young inside. Remember that they are protected by law.

In most countries, it is even illegal to destroy an empty nest. You must know what the law says about swallows nests in your country. If a permit is needed, you should do the requirements before washing away a swallow’s nest.

Stop swallows from nesting

The goal of this post is to present different ways through which you can deter a swallow from nesting on your property.

Swallows and their nests are fully protected by the law. You must be careful not to cause any harm to a swallow, their eggs, young ones, and their nest.

The best way to avoid their removal is to prevent them from coming close to your yard. The methods listed above are very cheap, easy, and effective. Practice them today and keep your building secured from swallows and other birds.

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