View Full Version : Barn Swallows: Will they come back?

Aug. 3, 2009, 02:03 PM
The 2nd year after I built my barn, barn swallows put up a nest in the rafters.
I love these birds - for their amusement value as much as for the numbers of mosquitos they consume.

So I was saddened when another species - my money is on either the $#^!& starlings or wrens :mad: - tossed eggs and finally a newly-hatched baby out of the nest.
It was abandoned after that and for 2 more years no more swallows nested inside the barn. :(

This year I noticed a new nest and Ma & Pa Swallow were taking no guff from the other birds!
They kicked tail & took names so I had 4 baby bobbleheads to enjoy watching until just last week, when they apparently graduated from their in-barn test flights and joined the rest in the Big World outside.

Will they return next year if I leave the nest alone?

Aug. 3, 2009, 02:07 PM
Yes, they will most likely return. Ours are back on the nest after successfully sending five babies off. I do like their chatter and love to see them huddle up for the night all in a row.

Aug. 3, 2009, 03:05 PM
2DogsFarm Congratulations and I'm glad they came back for you. :) :) :)

I've had swallows here every yr (20) but this yr the stinking sparrows pushed them out of their nests before there were any eggs and took the nest over completely. I knocked the nests down cause I'm not encouraging any sparrows in the barn or indoor as I have way too many now. Course 1 is too many as far as I'm concerned with sparrows.

I'm just hoping that next yr the swallows will come back.

Aug. 3, 2009, 04:17 PM
Yes, they will most likely return. Ours are back on the nest after successfully sending five babies off. I do like their chatter and love to see them huddle up for the night all in a row.

I've had robins return to the same nest 2, even 3 times in a Summer, but I wasn't sure if swallows did the same.
I hope they will refill the nest - they are so much fun to watch.
Especially the babies testing their new power of flight:
#1-Leave nest for nearest rafter
#2-Flutter wings wildly when feet meet rafter
#3-Cheep loudly to announce to nestmates there IS a World outside the nest
#4-Return to nest
#5-Flutter wings wildly and stuff inordinately large body back in nest
#6-Sit in a row on the edge of nest

All the while accompanied by the adult birds swooping in & out the open barn door & peeping encouraging words :D

How the 3 of them fit into that nest after they fledged is a wonder to me.
There was a 4th, but sadly he/she did not survive the first testflight & met the barn floor with a thump.

Aug. 3, 2009, 09:01 PM
My barn swallows come back every year. I have 2 nests. Nest #1 gets 2 families per year. The second group is just starting to poke their heads over the edge so I can see them. I love it when they are older and all perch on the side of the nest. This means in a few days they'll be flying.

On a separate note: I got a new tractor last month. As I'm mowing my fields, I notice that the barn swallows seem to be really angry at me and are swooping at me as I drive along. I can't figure out why since they don't nest in the fields. Then I figure it out....they are diving for the bugs I am flushing out of the pasture. They aren't angry, they are happy! :)

Aug. 3, 2009, 09:22 PM
Our barn swallows come back every year around April 15. They usually leave by the middle of August. When they return usually one pair comes ahead and checks out the barn. The look around, then leave and a few days later the whole flock is back. Towards the end of their stay they seem restless. They all fly around in a big circle, with all of them joining. Then somehow, there's a signal and they all leave. And yes, they love it when I bushhog too.

Sex, bugs, flock & roll!

Aug. 3, 2009, 09:32 PM
We had a nesting pair this summer that successfully raised all their young and after a few weeks they are back trying to raise another brood. :yes:

Aug. 3, 2009, 09:42 PM
Nest marauders can be house sparrow, starling and brown headed cowbird which is a true nest parasite. The female lays her egg in the nest and the resident bird incubates and hatches. The chick outgrows the resident chick and usually pushes out the eggs and the weaker hatchlings.

You can learn to recognize the undesirable egg and dispose of the unwanted if the nest gets parasitized. There are images on line of cowbird eggs and swallow eggs to help you know which is which

An angled mirror taped to a pole can be used to observe for eggs

Our swallows arrive as if a tour bus pulls up and dumps them off. They leave in the same fashion usually after Labor Day

Aug. 3, 2009, 11:35 PM
What Hoopoe said, she's the bird expert!! (I adore birds, and wish I had half her knowledge!!)

We only have one nest in our barn, sadly. Unfortunately, our babies seem to bake each year, and they all die:no:. This year, mom and dad had 4 eggs, and only one little guy made it out alive :). When it hit 90+ for the 11th day in a row today, punctuated by several 104+ days, I figured baby swallow was toast, but he/she survived!

I love swallows and really wish we had more nests. If only they'd build them in our barn overhang, where it's cooler, instead of in the roof beams of our big, red, metal barn...silly birds.

I plan on heading over to the school in Portland, where the Vaux's Swifts gather by the thousands each August to whirl in a vortex into the chimney there. Quite the spectacle! We had a pair of swifts nest in our spare chimney when we first moved here....SO cool!!

Aug. 4, 2009, 02:20 AM
Out of three eggs, only one survived this year. I have had a swallow take over the nest too.
Found the babies on the floor. Got a ladder and put them back. Mom and Dad kept feeding them. I stayed the next night and chased the starling out with a broom and she did not reurn.
Who returns year after year - Mom and Dad, babies and new mates? Our nests are years old by now. Amazing instinct to guide them back.

Aug. 4, 2009, 06:18 AM
I am ok with the Swallows as they don't make the mess the other birds too.
Birds can ruin a barn; I have to power wash the crap off the rafters.

I do leave the nests when the birds depart.

They seem to find their way back, amazing really after the 12 years I have been here, that they do.

Aug. 4, 2009, 07:29 AM
I have several nests throught out our barns. Usually each nest is a temporary home to two batches of babies annually. The sparrows in the past, have done a number on the nests, but we put mesh up along the eaves where the sparrows nest, and it seems to have discouraged their presence to a great extent. They also used to attack the baby swallows and clip their new flight feathers off, rendering them flightless!! It was horrible! But the past two or so years have been very productive for the swallows! From what I hear, the same birds return to the same barns each year!

Where do they go for the winter??

lesson junkie
Aug. 4, 2009, 09:13 AM
I love my swallows-they mark the seasons like the 4th and C'mas. My husband is a private pilot, and loves to watch them fly.

They'll all be gone pretty soon-fox hunting is right around the corner, and we'll be pulling the blankets out for inventory before you know it. It's been a good summer-plenty of rain for a change, the Dutch horse has put the puzzle pieces together, and the OTTB has decided to be a riding horse. I hope when the swallows come back next spring there will be more progress for them to swoop over!

Aug. 4, 2009, 09:22 AM
I don't know if this will help anyone that has swallow-hating birds, but we put screens up in all our barn windows. The swallows are the only birds that fly well enough to get in/out of the small opening at the top of the one screen closest to their nest. When the young ones are ready to fly, we open that screen up until they "get their wings" and then go back to the small opening.
We have fly "curtains" for the doors that I made cheaply, like shower curtains, that keep both the bug and unwanted bird traffic down.