Glistening cobalt blue above and tawny below, Barn Swallows dart gracefully over fields, barnyards, and open water in search of flying insect prey. Look for the long, deeply forked tail that streams out behind this agile flyer and sets it apart from all other North American swallows. Barn Swallows often cruise low, flying just a few inches above the ground or water. True to their name, they build their cup-shaped mud nests almost exclusively on human-made structures.
Barn Swallows don’t come to seed or suet feeders, but they may take ground-up eggshells or oyster shells placed on an open platform feeder. If you have a suitable outbuilding, leaving a door or window open can encourage Barn Swallows to build a nest inside. Providing a source of mud will also help with nest building. Barn Swallows may use artificial nest cups attached to an appropriate surface, or may build a nest on a provided shelf. Make sure you put up any nesting structures well before breeding season.
15 Tips on How to Get Rid of Barn Swallows
1. Install a swallow nesting shield
There are several ways to stop barn swallows from building a nest, but among the best barn swallow deterrents is the swallow nesting shield.
It is a plastic strip with monofilaments attached to it. Secure the plastic strip on overhangs, eaves, entryways, gables, or anywhere in your home that looks like an ideal spot for a barn swallow nest. The monofilaments will hang down to the ground.
2. Install a bird deterrent flying kite
Bird deterrent flying kite is designed with even more features to keep barn swallows away. It is usually shaped like a large bird of prey and uses colors and patterns that are usually associated with predators.
Black helps create contrast with the daytime sky. The red and yellow colors are arranged to look like the eyes of a dangerous animal. It even has a reflecting surface as an additional anti-swallow feature.
Bird deterrent flying kites are also made for outdoor use. These are more durable than your run-of-the-mill kites, so you don’t keep losing them when the wind is particularly strong.
3. Deter barn swallows with lasers
A good option is to use a swallow-deterring laser device. This emits strong, bright laser lights that move in unexpected patterns. The strength of the light allows it to cover a greater area.
These devices are installed as easily as plugging them in and facing them in the direction where you expect the barn swallows to show up.
4. Deter with electronic sound deterrent
Instead of emitting annoying, high-pitched sounds, this emits sounds typically associated with danger and distress calls.
This device has prerecorded soundbites of predators. When a barn swallow hears this, it will immediately think that the area is not safe for him and leave.
5. Install barn swallow bird spikes
The prickly rods jut out from the ledge, preventing birds from perching comfortably. It’s easy to install as these usually come in short segments with 2-3 spikes on them.
You can space them close together so the spikes are concentrated, or you can put a bit of space in between each to cover a larger area.
6. Wash away mud nests frequently
A good way of keeping swallows from building nests is by washing them away before they’re done.
Keep an eye out for the first signs of nesting, then act quickly. Make sure to wash off the mud at the beginning of the building process, and not when they’ve finished and have started laying eggs in them.
7. Install an owl scarecrow
So if you want to make the most of an owl scarecrow, you have to make it as realistic as possible. This owl decoy scarecrow is a good choice. It’s lifesize, 3D, and hand-painted in the natural colors of owls.
It has a sensor that can detect movement from up to 10 feet away. This triggers natural owl sounds and red flashing eyes that closely mimic that of the real predator.
It’s solar-powered, soaking up energy while it’s doing its job on your lawn, but there are also rechargeable batteries in case the sun isn’t out.
8. Offer a decoy barn swallow nesting house
Decoy barn swallows nesting houses are a way to get rid of those mud-encrusted eyesores on your home without getting rid of the birds that make them. These are designed to follow the natural barn swallow nests.
9. Use an ultrasonic bird repellent
An ultrasonic bird repellent is a great way to keep swallows away without having an obvious visual barn swallow deterrent on your property. This small device packs quite a punch. It emits annoying, high-frequency sounds when its sensor is triggered.
10. Implement liquid bird deterrent
One of the best barn swallow repellents uses methyl anthranilate. It may sound like a scary chemical, but it is actually a derivative of concord grapes.
That means the smell irks the nasal cavity of birds, causing them to avoid it. The effect of this swallow bird repellent is temporary, so it does not cause harm to the animals.
11. Remove food sources
Aside from nesting, another reason a bunch of mud swallow birds might make your home their own is that there’s a steady food source nearby.
12. Remove old swallow nests
If you want to keep barn swallows from nesting but really do not want to risk hurting any baby birds or eggs, you can choose to wait for the flock to migrate before removing any mud nests.
13. Install a bird netting
Bird netting is a popular option for people who are trying to get rid of flying pests stealing their space or crops. It is very easy to use for swallows because of their unique nesting behavior.
14. Scare barn swallows with reflection
You can use old CDs, small mirrors, or aluminum foil. Simply hang them from a string in places where swallow birds nest and chances are, they’ll keep away.
15. Call a professional
Wildlife control services are the best people to turn to if you have an out-of-control mud swallow problem.
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Cornell University. (n. d.). All About Birds. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Swallow/overview
Clifford, G. C. (2022, June 22). 15 Tips on How to Get Rid of Barn Swallows [Humanely]. World Birds. https://worldbirds.com/how-to-get-rid-of-barn-swallows/