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Barn swallow nests

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  • Barn swallow nests

    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?

    I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

  • #2
    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!
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    • #3
      Leave them

      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.


      • #4
        I've left ours and the swallows always returned to them - never any other species
        Epona Farm
        Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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        • #5
          They move right back in, so leave them up.
          It's 2017. Do you know where your old horse is?

          www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


          • #6
            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.


            • #7
              I leave them up unless they are right over a water bucket or hayrack.
              "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority." Rick Warren


              • #8
                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!


                • #9
                  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.


                  • #10
                    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.
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                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by SMF11 View Post
                      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.

                      I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                      • #12
                        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.


                        • #13
                          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.
                          A Fine Romance. April 1991 - June 2016. Loved forever.


                          • #14
                            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.
                            Visit Sonesta Farms website at www.sonestafarms.com or our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/sonestafarms. Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.


                            • #15
                              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!
                              save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                              • #16
                                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!
                                Sparkling Shiner's Mom


                                • #17
                                  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...


                                  • #18
                                    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.
                                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                    -Rudyard Kipling


                                    • #19
                                      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.


                                      • #20
                                        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!