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How to Get Rid of Barn Swallows

swallow in a barn - featured image

Generally, barn swallows are protected by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act; therefore, getting rid of them or disturbing their nests in some places is not recommended. After all, these swallows are beneficial as they eat insects, including mosquitoes and flies.

Unfortunately, out of the 8 swallow species in North America, cliff and barn swallows are the most problematic.

However, if you are experiencing problems with Barn swallows nesting in undesirable areas, such as near entrances or high-traffic areas, you should learn how to get rid of barn swallows. After all, they are bound to do more than make some mud nests.

Different Ways to Prevent Barn Swallows

Swallow Nest Removal

These birds are protected by the law in several nations, including Canada and the United States. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of the local laws and regulations regarding the protection of the barn swallow.

If you are uncertain about the legal aspects or want to explore other options, consider contacting local wildlife authorities or bird conservation organizations for guidance on managing Barn swallow populations in your area.

So before removing the existing swallow mud nests, you might have to get a permit for dealing with these migratory birds.

After confirming the legal aspect, you can remove any existing nests on your house. Barn swallows usually make their nest on vertical projections and walls. Plus, they have been known to reuse the old Barn swallow nest.

So make sure to wear protective gear when taking care of the Barn swallow problem, such as gloves and a mask, to avoid coming into contact with any parasites or droppings.

barn swallows

Seal Off Access Points

Inspect your house for any openings or gaps where the swallows may be entering. Use caulk, mesh, swallow nesting shield, or bird netting to seal off these entry points for these mud swallows.

Hang a wire mesh or bird netting diagonally to help cover all the locations swallows can construct their nests.

Pay close attention to areas such as eaves, vents, and gaps between siding or roofing materials when using bird netting. Remember, these places resemble the caves where these nesting swallows used to build their nests in the past.

Deter Barn Swallows

There are various visual and auditory deterrents you can use to discourage swallows from nesting in your house. Some of the best methods to deter barn swallows include:

  • Reflective devices: Hang reflective objects such as strips of aluminum foil, reflective tape, or old CDs near nesting sites. The moving reflections may deter the swallows since they will make them uncomfortable.
  • Predatory bird decoys: Install decoys of predatory birds, such as owls or hawks, near nesting areas. These birds are often intimidated by these perceived threats, so they can work perfectly.
  • Scare devices: Use scare balloons or kites with large eyespots or predator designs to deter the Barn swallows.
  • Ultrasonic devices: Consider using ultrasonic devices that emit high-frequency sounds that are unpleasant to these birds but are not audible to humans. I consider this method to be the most effective and easiest to install. Since it won’t disturb us, it will make it impossible for these birds to perch near your house.

Limit Perching Options

Swallows prefer to perch on open, elevated structures near our homes. By removing potential perching spots, you can make your house less appealing to them.

Start by trimming trees or shrubs near the house and consider installing spikes or netting on ledges or other potential perching areas.

Regular Cleaning

Barn swallows eat insects; therefore, they're attracted to areas with abundant insects. Keep your house and surrounding areas free of insects by regularly cleaning and removing any debris or potential food sources.

Regular cleaning will help you get rid of barn swallows; after all, they love staying near their food sources.

Employ Bird Repellents

There are specific bird repellents available that can stop swallows from nesting. These repellents typically contain ingredients that can deter swallows, such as capsaicin or methyl anthranilate.

But make sure you follow the instructions on the product carefully and apply it to areas where the mud swallow birds are likely to nest.

Contact The Experts

If you have exhausted the above efforts for getting rid of Barn swallows to no avail, then you should seek professional assistance. Start by talking to the local wildlife officers and find out the best legal and effective solutions.

You can contact an avian expert to help you set up the right bird deterrents method and where to install them.

They can even help you pick the right chemical that can repel barn swallows from your home.

barn swallow perched on a straw of hay

Why Do Barn Swallows Build Their Mud Nests on Our Houses?

  • Shelter: These birds seek out structures that provide shelter from the elements. Buildings offer protection from rain, wind, and predators. The eaves and overhangs of houses mimic the natural cliff ledges that these birds traditionally nested on before human structures existed.
  • Availability: As human development expands, natural nesting sites for Barn swallow nests, such as cliffs and caves, are becoming less common. Therefore, these birds have adapted to use man-made structures as substitute nesting sites, including the nooks and crannies of houses.
  • Accessibility: Swallows prefer to build their nests in open areas with good visibility, enabling them to spot approaching predators. Houses with open windows, doorways, or gaps in eaves provide suitable locations for the Barn swallow nests.
  • Food availability: Barn swallows primarily feed on flying insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and beetles. Human structures, especially those located near water bodies or open fields, can attract high numbers of insects, making them attractive foraging grounds for barn swallows. Building nests nearby allows them to have quick access to their food source.
  • Nesting success: Barn swallows are colonial nesters, meaning they prefer to build their nests close to each other. By nesting in structures like homes, they benefit from the proximity of other Barn swallow colonies, increasing their chances of successful breeding and survival.

The Negative Effects of the Barn Swallow

Barn swallows are small, insect-eating birds that are generally beneficial to the environment and play a vital role in controlling insect populations. However, there can be a few negative effects associated with barn swallows in certain situations.

Here are some potential negative effects that make us prevent them from perching on our homes:

  • Nuisance bird droppings: Barn swallows are known to nest in large colonies, often building their nests on structures such as buildings, bridges, and houses. These nesting colonies can lead to the accumulation of bird droppings, which can be messy and may cause aesthetic concerns or damage property.
  • Noise: Swallows are quite vocal birds and can produce a significant amount of chirping and chattering sounds. While some people enjoy these sounds as a part of nature, in densely populated areas or when Barn swallow colonies are located near homes or businesses, the noise can become a nuisance, especially during the breeding season.
  • Agricultural impact: While Barn swallows primarily feed on insects, they occasionally consume small fruits, seeds, and grains. In agricultural areas, large populations of these pest birds can cause minor crop damage by feeding on these crops. However, their insect-eating habits often outweigh any negative impact they may have on crops.
  • Competing with other bird species in the region: In some cases, they can compete with other bird species, particularly native cavity-nesting birds, for nesting sites. This competition can potentially displace or reduce the breeding success of other species, particularly in areas where suitable nesting sites are limited.
  • Health concerns: Although they are generally not considered a direct health threat to humans, their nests can sometimes harbor parasites such as mites, ticks, or fleas. In rare cases, these parasites can infest buildings or structures where swallows nest, leading to potential health concerns for humans or domestic animals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can vinegar repel Barn Swallow from my home?

Generally, the smell of vinegar is unpleasant to most birds, including this species. Therefore, spraying vinegar where they build their nests can be handy. You can spray vinegar on the ledges in places like your shed, balcony, and porch.

Can mothballs repel the Barn swallows from nesting in my home?

Mothballs are known for their unique ammoniacal scent that can easily deter lots of species, including swallows. Therefore, it can work when placed in some strategic places around your compound. Simply place them in places like the corners of the garage, the veranda, and terraces to prevent them from entering your home.

What smells do swallows dislike?

Other than vinegar and ammoniacal scent, these birds dislike lots of smells. For instance, products like Bird-Out, a popular bird repellent, are quite effective. This product’s active ingredient is MA (Methyl Anthranilate) which smells like grapes to humans but can irritate birds and insects.

Fortunately, most repellents have included Methyl Anthranilate in their products.


Barn swallows are destructive creatures that have been known to cause a wide range of issues. They can also destroy our crops while making too much noise and leaving their fecal matter behind. Unfortunately, they’re protected by the Migratory Protection Act, so you can’t attack them; instead, you can repel them away.

With the above techniques, you can safely stop swallows from nesting in your homes before the swallows arrive. If it proves challenging, then you can contact a professional to help you prevent swallows.

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