How To Prevent Barn Swallows From Nesting On Your Home

While barn swallows are amazing birds and fun to watch, you might not want to have them nesting on your home. Not only are they loud, protective of their nests, and messy, but the nests may actually damage houses and other structures. Once swallows nest, it is illegal to disturb them or their nests, so your best option is to prevent these birds from nesting around your house in the first place by covering the areas where swallows might build nests. Frightening devices that scare birds away from areas are also available, but many are not terribly effective. 

Barn swallows begin their migration from South America back to North America in early March and usually begin breeding in May. Once they are settled in their summer homes they have two sets of chicks and don't leave until August. Because it is illegal to remove nests once the swallows are living in them, it is important to start your swallow exclusion efforts early with certain preventative tactics.

Keeping barn swallows away from your house

Barn swallows generally nest in eaves, building their mud nests in the spots where the roofs connect to walls. They are especially fond of rougher wall surfaces like stucco and stone. By covering these areas with netting during the spring, you'll be able to prevent swallows from accessing these potential nesting spots. If you've had barn swallows nesting on your house before, be sure to remove the nests as soon as they are vacant and put up mesh to prevent the birds from accessing that area again.

While covering your eaves in netting every spring may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option, it is quite effective. Other ways to prevent access to your eaves include using fiberglass panels to cover the area and mounting metal spikes called bird spikes to the eaves. Stationary frightening devices like decoys are not always an effective tool to scare birds away, nor are chemical or noise-based repellents.

How barn swallows could be beneficial

While it's easy to think of barn swallows as simply a nuisance, they are actually quite beneficial birds to have around. Their diet consists almost entirely of insects so they provide excellent pest control services, taking care of flies, beetles, wasps, and crickets, that might otherwise bother your family or your garden. Their numbers are in decline in many areas so if you have the space, you may even want to encourage barn swallows to nest somewhere on your property.

The eaves of an older barn or shed can be a perfect place for swallows to raise their young. Adding nesting shelves will encourage swallows to nest in your desired locations as well. These shelves are simply squares of wood that jut out from your walls about half a foot below where the wall meets the roof. Planting bayberry and other plants that are likely to bring swallows to your yard nearby can also help encourage the birds to move in.