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msj
Mar. 2, 2012, 05:32 PM
It's way too early in western NY for swallows to be back but I'm curious what other people do about the nests from previous years. I've always knocked them down so the barn sparrows don't nest in them. The barn swallows always rebuild where the old ones were.

What do you do about the old nests? Leave them up or knock them down?

Calvincrowe
Mar. 2, 2012, 05:37 PM
Umm...I love my swallows, so I do nothing to their nests, year to year. However, I've knocked one down, repeatedly, in an attempt to keep them out of the highest, hottest part of my 24 foot high roof peak in my metal pole barn. Essentially, you must continuously knock them down as they build them to totally discourage them from nesting.

However--they are such beneficial birds, I've never considered it. Now...starlings? Whole 'nother story, sister!

casper324
Mar. 2, 2012, 05:45 PM
I figure why not let them have a little less work to do..........
Besides it is a nice "welcome home" I'm sure after that long flight.

horsetales
Mar. 2, 2012, 06:43 PM
I've left ours and the swallows always returned to them - never any other species

pony4me
Mar. 2, 2012, 06:51 PM
They move right back in, so leave them up.

goodhors
Mar. 2, 2012, 07:02 PM
I knock them down, in hopes of having the swallows nest OUTSIDE. I try to keep the nests down and remove new nests before they are finished. Birds are VERY persistant and if I miss the nest start for one day, they have nest finished, moved in and laid eggs. I give up when they have eggs or appear to be "setting" in a nest. They will try new locations in the barn trusses, when I knock down their first efforts.

Our barn cats do walk the trusses, so if I can prevent birdy snacks from happening, I will. I only had two nests inside last year, and they raised two batches each. I had other swallows around the place, not sure where they nested. Cats are also waiting for the chicks to try flying fall from the barn nests, get their snacks that way too. Not such easy snacks if they nest outside.

I also don't want the poop coming down on the horses or hay stacked under a nest. We have outside sheds with trusses and lots of trees, so swallows should be able to build outside the barn. No one ever bothers them outside and I am grateful for their bug eating efforts.

MoonWitch
Mar. 2, 2012, 07:22 PM
I leave them up unless they are right over a water bucket or hayrack.

Vesper Sparrow
Mar. 2, 2012, 07:22 PM
Please don't knock them down! I don't know about in the U.S., but the population has taken a nosedive here (and Rochester isn't so far from here, so I expect it's similar). The Barn Swallow, once such a familiar bird to us, is on the Canadian species at risk list. All of a sudden, we had none nesting in the barn last year. Enjoy them while you can!

Underthebridge
Mar. 2, 2012, 07:36 PM
I don't believe it will make any difference, the sparrows are becoming so aggressive and dominant, but I have to say they are extremely intelligent, I wish I could teach them to do something useful.

SMF11
Mar. 2, 2012, 07:40 PM
I'm another one who leaves the nests up. No other bird has used them, and the swallows return to them each year. One is over my barn aisle, and there is only poop after the babies hatch. I just put a piece of plastic or paper underneath and that spot stays clean.

msj
Mar. 2, 2012, 07:51 PM
One is over my barn aisle, and there is only poop after the babies hatch. I just put a piece of plastic or paper underneath and that spot stays clean.

This is exactly where my swallows do have their nest and I just put a muck basket underneath to keep it cleaner. Thank heavens they didn't nest right where the X-ties were! :) I guess I'd just have to move the X-ties just so I could accommodate the swallows as I really do love them, poop and all. :) :)

Besides the occasional sparrow trying to add tons of hay to the nest in a takeover attempt, the only other problem I've ever had was a red-tailed hawk coming in, killing and eating the babies. It's happened 2 yrs now. :( :(

NEWT
Mar. 2, 2012, 08:54 PM
I used to leave them up. Then, two years ago all the gorgeous and beautiful babies jumped to their death onto the cement floor. When I discovered them and picked one up it was quickly apparent what drove them to their doom.... mites! Millions of them. You wouldn't believe how QUICKLY those insects scurried all the way up my bare arm. I freaked and madly scrapped them off, all the while remembering the story about the woman who begged her landlord to clean the bird nests out of the bathroom vent (the mites climbed onto her bath towel which she used after a shower. The mites got into EVERY orafice on her body and she was hospitalized. Ick). Anyway, those mites managed to over-winter and do their harm to those little babies. Now, at the end of the season (two-three nestings per summer), I knock down the nests. Yup, they've got to rebuild.

On another note here's a story that's just cute. My husband used to lobster for a living. Each summer a pair of barn swallows would nest in the open cabin of his boat. One bird would stay on the nest while Mr. Newt lobstered. Once the brood was hatched they left them in his care but joyously welcomed him back to port each afternoon at his return from sea. I like to tell people he was a surrogate parent to little barn swallows. They are now his favorite bird.:)

Fred
Mar. 2, 2012, 09:27 PM
I love Barn Swallows, they are my favourite bird!.
We have lots of nests - in the barn aisles, and in all the run-in sheds.
I leave the nests up -
and it is one of my happy moments when the swallows come home, each spring.

The story of the mites was quite gross, but what I am assuming is that any mites would die over the winter in our climate.

Sonesta
Mar. 2, 2012, 09:31 PM
We have had barn swallows nesting on the eves of our back and front porches for years. We always remove the nests when they leave in the fall and they return and build new ones.

The one year we decided to leave the nests in place, the bird returned, but built new nests next to the old ones and didn't use the old ones (one exception).

After reading the post about mites, that might explain it. So, we will continue to remove the old nests after they leave and welcome them back every spring.

I love these birds. It is so much fun to watch the babies grow and learn to fly.

fivehorses
Mar. 2, 2012, 09:32 PM
I love my swallows, and never knock down a nest, and have had 20 years of nests being built to accomodate the babies coming back to start their own nests.
They eat mosquitoes and other bugs, so I welcome them.

So much so, that I am driving north the end of the month to open up my barn to them, although, I will not be there to enjoy them. I want them to find their home is still open to them.

I love my swallows. It is my happy moment too!

Sparkling Shiner
Mar. 3, 2012, 04:38 AM
We love our barn swallows, too. It's always a joyous moment when they return (in large numbers) each spring. For years we left the nests up, then saw that they never re-used the old ones, but built a new one directly on top. Most were stacked 3 or 4 nests high and they where running out of headroom. This winter we have knocked them all down to give them space for re-building.
Can't wait to see them again!

WildBlue
Mar. 3, 2012, 07:12 AM
Mine have never reused old nests. I need to get out there and knock down the old ones to make room for this year's...

JSwan
Mar. 3, 2012, 09:32 AM
For those concerned about mites, you can buy an inexpensive powder at the feed store. Not Sevin - it's delousing powder for livestock and poultry.

I dust the chicken roosts with it, and also apply a little in my bluebird boxes. Swallow nests tend to be high, but if it safe for you to do so sprinkling a dab might help with mites or other creepy crawlies.

I don't knock anything down except Starling and House Sparrow nests. A while back Field and Stream challenged some cooks to come up with recipes for those species - evidently they taste quite good. Y'all are welcome to try and let me know how they taste.

mkevent
Mar. 3, 2012, 10:33 AM
JSwan-if the house sparrows have taken over the swallow nests, should you then knock them down?

I've had swallows return but it didn't look like any of the babies survived last year. I'd love to find a way to help the population grow-at least in my barn.

I do have less sparrows than before, so I'm hoping the swallows will come back stronger.

leaf
Mar. 3, 2012, 11:09 AM
Love the barn swallows, and they'll be here soon in Va.
I do knock the old nests down in the winter because of mites. I dust the nest sites with a little Sevin, or dog flea powder. Sevin dust is carbaryl is flea powder. I also clean out the Bluebird houses, and Tree Swallow gourds early in the spring and lightly dust with flea powder, then blow it out. I used to disinfect with a little clorox and water, rinse and dry, but I'm thinking the clorox is a little too much and what's left in the wood of the boxes could be harmful.

Several years ago, Barn Swallow babies were launching themselves out of the nests. I'd pick them up and put them back and my hands would be crawling with mites. I called the Va. Wildlife Center and they said it had been a particularly bad year for mites. Every bird they got in was infested and they weren't sure why. They suggested sevin dust/flea powder and try sprinkling it on the babies, carefully, and the nest as well. I tried but it didn't go too well.

So I try to keep the swallows' nesting spots clean of old nests and let them rebuild when they return in the spring.

They're on their way!

BoysNightOut
Mar. 3, 2012, 04:32 PM
I love our barn swallows! We leave the nests up. :)

CobJockey
Mar. 3, 2012, 07:02 PM
I grew up with them in our barn, and above our light at our front door, and couldn't imagine knocking the nests down. The only time they were ever a bother were when they they tried to dive bomb me as I went out the front door to my car when their babies hatched. I just got good at being lightfooted during hatching time!

MistyBlue
Mar. 3, 2012, 07:11 PM
I'm a bit OCD with my barn swallows. I leave the nests up, dust them for mites if needed and even "trim" them over the winter. (trimming the long bits of horse hair or stem hay sticking out)

The sparrows don't try often to take over those nests, probably because I blow their feathery arses out of them with the leaf blower if they try it. :D

When they arrive back here in spring, I take a flat feed pan and fill it with nice wet mud and leave it on the ground right outside the barn door. The swallows love having their "patch kit" for adding on to the nests right there, LOL!

I also toss a handful of squirming meal worms in there, they'll gobble them up if they're moving and they appreciate the meals after that long flight.

And before they get back I put the nest nets back up...I string nets up under each nest. I line each one with a piece of feed bag. This catches all bird poop...and also any babies born a day late that get shoved out of the next by their siblings. Mom and dad can still feed them in the net under the nest.

I adore those birds...I get ridiculously giddy when they show back up in spring and when they babies hatch and when they start flying...

mkevent
Mar. 4, 2012, 10:31 AM
I lost some babies last year because they fell (or jumped) out of the nests. I was blaming the sparrows even though I hadn't seen any take over the nests in the past few years. In fact, I don't really think I have a sparrow problem anymore (knocking wood furiously).

I didn't know about the mites, though. If you dust the nests before the swarrows return, should that be enough to last through the upcoming season?

tucktaway
Mar. 4, 2012, 01:28 PM
WOW Misty Blue! You are barn swallow fairy godmother :)

Watermark Farm
Mar. 4, 2012, 03:52 PM
WOW Misty Blue! You are barn swallow fairy godmother :)

I second that! You are good people, Misty Blue!

Creaghgal
Mar. 4, 2012, 06:31 PM
Mine are left alone & I've seen a pair of winter wrens take refuge in them when the weather turns very cold.

Mallard
Mar. 4, 2012, 07:45 PM
I leave the nests alone....and hope that the babies don't fall out into my hungry barn cats mouth.

2DogsFarm
Mar. 5, 2012, 02:31 PM
:cry:I miss my swallows inside the barn.
Up until last year they were one of my main sources of entertainment - including watching a Mom&Dad build a totally new nest when one of their fledglings Would.Not.Leave the original.
Crabby Jr. just sat on the edge of the old nest and watched.
Typical teenager :mad:

Last summer they got displaced by sparrows who put up their messy little Ghetto Nest right on top of the swallows' neat mud one.
Avian Section 8 :mad::mad:

I hope the swallows try again this year or I'm gonna get me one of those MistyBlue blowers and airbomb the sparrows!

Chief2
Mar. 6, 2012, 04:32 AM
We have several Barn Swallow nests in the barn. The most popular is built on the door frame above the bathroom door. To keep the area poop-free and baby safe, someone took the top off of a pizza box and duct taped it beneath the nest, jutting out underneath it. At the end of the season it comes down and gets tossed. Works great! I'll have to pick up some stuff for dusting for mites and sprinkle it in before they come back.

RedmondDressage
Mar. 6, 2012, 02:16 PM
I love my barn swallows. We have a pair who nests in our barn every year... Well - I suppose it's been 15 years now so probably quite a few pairs now :) I leave our nests up. I especially like the one over my retired guy's stall as it's in the perfect spot to get up in the loft and spy on them when they're teeny babies and when they're learning to fly. I look forward to their return every year, so much fun to watch their acrobatics over the pasture!

RedmondDressage
Mar. 6, 2012, 02:19 PM
When they arrive back here in spring, I take a flat feed pan and fill it with nice wet mud and leave it on the ground right outside the barn door. The swallows love having their "patch kit" for adding on to the nests right there, LOL!

I also toss a handful of squirming meal worms in there, they'll gobble them up if they're moving and they appreciate the meals after that long flight.

And before they get back I put the nest nets back up...I string nets up under each nest. I line each one with a piece of feed bag. This catches all bird poop...and also any babies born a day late that get shoved out of the next by their siblings. Mom and dad can still feed them in the net under the nest.


What awesome ideas! I might have to steal a few of these out of your playbook this year :)

danskbreeder
Mar. 7, 2012, 04:01 PM
mine are up in the clerestory of the barn 30+ feet high. I
m hoping that because it's below freezing in the barn in the winter there are no mites. The nests are not easy to reach and last year was the first year we had swallows. They built the nests on the heads of the sprinkler system so even moer reason to hope we don't have a fire. They arrive during mud season so I think they'll find plenty of material to repair their nests.

pj
Mar. 11, 2012, 06:21 PM
NO FAIR!!!
Y'all have ALL the swallows and aren't sharing.
I've never ever had any swallows wanting to call my barn home...just sparrows and wrens. I like them, especially the wrens but I want swallows, too. :cry:
Wonder why they don't like my barn?

Bacardi1
Mar. 11, 2012, 06:35 PM
ADORE them & their insect-eating efforts. Far more important than some stray poo "dirtying my pristine barn" (good grief!).

Would never DREAM of knocking nests down - old or new.

Can't wait for them to arrive every year. :)

Salar
Mar. 11, 2012, 08:03 PM
Just this morning I was thinking about and eagerly anticipating their return. It is a happy day when I spot the first returnees. Our rural community residents are avid barn swallow admirers and even those that now longer house animals in their barns readily swing open the doors to the mow a few weeks prior to their arrival. We usually have between 15- 20 pairs and they do reuse the same nest year after year.

We should start our own "barn swallow watch" and track them north. Mind you, I am sure I will be the last in line...here in Nova Scotia

Bacardi1
Mar. 11, 2012, 08:12 PM
I've been keeping an Excel spreadsheet of "Seasonal Firsts" since 2008, & around here the Barn Swallows have been showing up between April 12th & May 6th. Tree Swallows usually show up a couple of weeks earlier.

Go Fish
Mar. 16, 2012, 01:09 PM
I was just reading an old issue of Equus magazine. I never mess with birds in the barn, (I like having them in there for insect control), but a vet recommended doing the following if you want to deter birds in the barn:

"One of the most popular bird deterents is methyl anthranilate, which occurs naturally in grapes and is commonly used to flavor grape gum and beverages. When sprayed on rafters and other structures where birds habitually roost, methyl anthranilate leaves an odor that repels birds. Found in many bird deterrent products, the compound is effective against pigeons, sparrows, starlings, barn swallows and woodpeckers, among others."

I'd never heard of this before. Might be worth a try for folks who are trying to keep birds out of the barn.