Three species of swallows are seasonally found in the region: the cliff swallow, barn swallow and tree swallow. All can be a nuisance, two minimally and one dramatically.
The cliff swallow is the most common and abundant of the swallows. They migrate to and from South America each year, arriving locally in April-May and departing generally in August-September. They are rather dark blue-black with a rusty rump and cheeks. They are very acrobatic flyers, feeding on bugs while in flight.
Although highly beneficial, they unfortunately build their gourd-shaped mud nests under eaves and soffits of homes and commercial buildings, especially on stucco. Being colony nesters, hundreds of nests can be built very quickly, creating a huge mess of feces and mud splatters on siding, windows or anything else nearby. In addition, the birds can be very noisy and disconcerting as they dart around windows and doorways. Large accumulations of nests can also lead to infestations of bird lice in living quarters. Protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, occupied nests (with eggs or fledglings) cannot be disturbed without a special permit.
Barn swallows are less common locally. They have a blue-black back and cinnamon chest/belly. They are very similar to cliff swallows in habits, but their nests are bowl or cup-like. As their name suggests, they often nest in barns or abandoned buildings, sometimes under covered entryways of occupied homes.
Tree swallows are blue-green on the back and white on the chest/belly. Habits are very similar to other swallows, but they usually nest separately in hollows or cavities, sometimes in bathroom fan vent pipes.
Methods to control cliff swallows include repeatedly washing down nests before eggs are laid and, of course, after the birds vacate nests. This may require daily washing for many days. Once nests are removed the key to prevention is obstructing the birds from rebuilding. Since cliff swallows almost always construct nests in the 90º corner created by the vertical wall and horizontal soffit, it’s fairly simple to obstruct them. Our preferred method is to install inverted bird spikes. They are hardly visible and last indefinitely. Other methods include removing the 90º angle with a product called bird slide or a cabled net system, or simply temporarily attaching a net or plastic curtain to the soffit. Changing the substrate or siding surface to be smooth or slick also has merit. Eliminating nearby mud sources when practical can be preventative.
Barn swallow nests without eggs or young can also be washed off. However, nest placement is more random, so obstruction or repellents are less precise. Tree swallows can be prevented by screening open vents.
Whatever your bird problem, call us at 719-636-1014 for an assessment and prices. We can help!