I recently looked up "birds in barn" on the forum but it dated back to 2009-2011. No really good solutions at the time. Since it's been a couple years now what have you found that works the best?
I like birds but don't like the mess they leave everywhere. We have screened in many of the areas where the starlings want to nest but they have torn some of the screening to get in. We know we have a couple of nice sized black snakes up there but they are most likely resting for the winter so they are not eating these darn birds.
Any great ideas and successful solutions you have found?
Thank you. I look forward to reading what you have found that might work.
Veezee- I am a bit of a bird fanatic, so here is my take on the situation some people have:
If the birds in question are sparrows or starlings- they are vermin and you should kill them like you would mice or rats.
If they are barn swallows- You should consider youself lucky and blessed to have them and try to figure out a way to make their living arrangement one that works for all of you. Disturbing these birds or their nests is a violation of federal law.
Excluding birds from barns is tough, because you are always going to have open windows and doors. There are bird traps on the market which will catch birds alive- this is a precaution so that if a native (protected by law) bird is accidentally captured- it can be released unharmed. The problem with the bird traps though is that after you catch the starling- you would/should kill it- which is difficult for some people. Shooting them with a pellet gun is another option- but can be tricky because they get wise and sneaky. Whatever you do- don't trap and release- it just moves your problem to someone else's habitat- and the birds will probably beat you home anyway.
I "control" (that's the PC word in use now) sparrows and starlings at my farm because I have a purple martin colony and it's essential to the well being of the native birds that they not have these agressive nest site competitors around. Since I started ridding my farm of the non-natives- you would not believe the difference in the native bird "scene" I think they come here and stay because they appreciate that there is not such pressure from the competing birds.
Right now, this time of year- nest box style traps work really well with starlings- they are interested in setting up digs in the most primo spots- so they are really drawn to the nestboxes- there are several styles- the one I like best is called a "compact repeating nest box trap" and it is something a handy person can build themselves- but it takes a bit of tinkering. It's a brilliant concept and works great.
There are a couple of methods, the one that seems to be the easier for people who have trouble with it- is to put them in a small airtight container and spray a little blast of engine starter fluid in- (which is ether)- it is probably the least traumatic for both the birds and the person who is having to do it and kills within seconds.
Snapping the neck is probably the best way- but is a little too hands-on for many.
Also, if you are having trouble emotionally coming to terms with killing innocent wild birds who are just doing their thing- I understand that- it was very hard for me to wrap my head around this when I first started trying to attract Purple martins... all the hardcore martin people seemed so bloodthirsty in their quest to kill the sparrows and starlings- I didn't understand it- I thought, "Aren't we bird LOVERS?" but the more I learned, and sadly eventually witnessed first hand, I began to understand just how harmful these non-native birds are... they have competition techniques that our native birds did not evolve with.
This page has a lot of very dramatic info/evidence about house sparrows and how they compete. The website is made by Bluebird conservationists, because their focus is on bluebirds (which are smaller birds) the house sparrow is the main threat- because a sparrow can get in a bluebird house- while a starling can't... because the Purple Martin is a larger bird- they are vulnerable to both sparrows AND starlings. (Thankfully there is a new crescent shaped hole which is helping protect the martins from stalings- but the sparrows are still an issue)
Developing an awareness of the native birds and their situation may help gentle hearted people get over their reluctance.
I have sparrows AND barn swallows. I love the swallows but hate the sparrows. They are all in the rafters of the barn so the cats are no use, although naturally I don't want them to kill the swallows. I suppose I could attempt to just pick off the sparrows with a BB gun. I was thinking about blasting the nests with the hose before they lay eggs (I feel bad about disturbing nests, even though I know I shouldn't). Too cold to keep the hose hooked up here, but maybe I will start hitting them with the jets this weekend if it warms up. I just hope it won't discourage the swallows, although they tend to build nests on the inside of the roof itself (not in the rafters.)
I only have a 3 stall barn, but it is totally bird accessible because my stalls open as run-ins, but the stall walls don't go all the way to the rafters. So, my plan is to see if hosing the sparrow nests will deter them.
The policy I have at my farm is that I need to capture/kill the sparrows who made the nest- BEFORE - I remove the nest. As long as the nest is there- it makes the sparrows easy targets because they have a destination they are focused on. Destroying the nest of live birds can just send them on a tear and do more harm than if you had just left them alone.
My husband is a great shot (me not so much) and he got a nice pellet gun with a scope- I'm thankful after many years of battling the sparrows on my own- he has taken to sparrow sniping to guard our martin colony.
I wasn't sure from how you phrased it about hosing down the nests- English House Sparrows are not a native bird and they are not protected- you may kill them and destroy their nests at any time.
Barn Swallows are native and ARE protected, as are their nests- so you may not disturb the swallow nests even if they build in an awful spot (for you) While I can't imagine anyone not liking having barn swallows at their farm- I do understand how messy they can be (and some people are truly frightened by swooping bird dive bombing when they have babies in the nest) There are things you can do to try to encourage the barn swallows to nest in a place that would work better for you- not a sure thing, but an invitation. This is a good time of year to get ready because the swallows are just starting their northward migrations now.
I have never seen a Stellar's Jay in real life- it's funny how one person's pest is another person's exotic beauty! (I remember seeing an American Crow and a raccoon on display at the Vienna Zoo)
What are the Jays doing in the barn? Are they stealing cat or dog food or are they nesting?
They nest in the barn and make a huge mess. And they screech at you all the time! And they poop all over everything in the barn. And they chase the other birds away from the feeders and make a big mess there because they hang off the feeders and sling the seed everywhere!
Kanoe Godby www.dyrkgodby.com See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.
We have a great barn cat but there are too many starlings for her to manage. I have bluebird boxes around the farm but monitor them to keep the sparrows out. Most of our bluebird boxes are used by bluebirds. So far the only birds in the barn have been the starlings. I will set up the trap since I have one and have only ever caught starlings in it. Will try the other nest box idea too since I know how to make them. Thank you for all the great tips. I'm still going over all of them to make a list and try them out. I do love birds and encourage birds up by the house to enjoy watching the beautiful bluebirds and other pretty birds that come to to the feeders. It is interesting that the starlings stay away from the feeders thank goodness. Now to just work on evicting starlings from the barn.
We have zero birds and pests in our barn and have been pest free for many years now. Our stall windows all have screens, and we built custom sliding screen doors. Our barn can be completely open to the outside but no birds, possums or bugs get in. Ok, a few bugs and an occassional mouse that the cats chase. It was not expensive or particularly hard to do but we really enjoy working in the barn a whole lot more than we used to. The horses LOVE it...few biting insects.
One of the unexpected benefits of completely enclosing our barn with screens is on the rare occasion that a horse darts out of his stall....he's still trapped in the barn! We put them on the same type of sliding track that are used for our barn doors but we mounted the sliders on the inside of the barn. Where we couldn't put a slider, we hinged two pre-built screen doors together and made one side a walk door.
Another vote for a good barn cat or two. I have a dynamic duo who works as follows: One seems to like walking around in barn rafters and patrols frequently. The other likes to sit inside the closed barn door in case a bird attempts to fly under it. Between the two of them, I've had no nesting birds in my barn for years.