A group of barn swallows decided that the peak of the archway of the home's front door would be a great nesting spot. It may have been for them, but not so much for this homeowner. She certainly didn't appreciate all of the droppings covering the door and the front of the house. Swallows, like most birds, are federally protected, so you can't capture or kill them, nor would we want to. All we want to do is influence their behavior so they nest elsewhere. The two major nuisance swallows (martins) that we commonly deal with in New Jersey are barn swallows and cliff swallows. Barn swallows tend to build their nests in high up, out-of the-way places inside large structures. When we get a call for a barn swallow infestation, more often than not, the swallows made their way inside a large structure such as a stable, barn, warehouse, or garage to nest. But, as you can see here, they sometimes choose regular residences in accessible locations.
These sleek, slender colorful birds build nests using clumps of dried mud that's mixed in with other debris, and anchor little mud balls on virtually any surface. If the surface is too smooth, the nest can detach. But if the nest attaches well to a structure, their finished product is a perfectly sculpted nest about the size of a softball. There's a small opening at the top, and the inside is lined with a few feathers for some soft nesting.
Swallows, like all wildlife, becomes a nuisance once they they nest either inside or attached to the outside of homes and other buildings. These birds, which are beautiful from a distance, can become quite protective of their nest and will dive-bomb anyone that ventures too close. Also, bird droppings are a toxic, acidic mess that can contain numerous pathogens. Bird waste all over the front of a house doesn't just look bad - it's a health hazard that can easily be tracked into the home. Also, barn swallows often bring with them various parasites including avian lice, bird mites, and biting blood-feeding swallow bugs, which are similar to bed bugs. Swallow infestations can get out of hand quickly. These birds are exceptionally fast breeders, and their populations can double or even triple within a yea. If these birds take a liking to your home or building, you could potentially find yourself with a small army of barn swallows congregating around your property.
As a wildlife technician, I look forward to nuisance bird assignments. With birds, every project is unique and the deterrents, to be effective, must be selected based on the type of bird and particular structure. Here, aesthetics were a top priority because the infestation was in a highly visible location - the front and center entrance of the house. It's not like we could string up exclusionary bird netting over the door and call it a day. Here, I removed the best possible nesting site that the swallows had chosen by installing a line of unobtrusive bird spikes. For aesthetics, I colored them so they would blend in with the shade of brink on the house. As shown in the photo, I used a masonry bit to prep the brick for mason screws to hold the line of deterrent spikes in place. These bird spikes will prevent these birds from landing and nesting above the front door, one of the worst high-traffic, visible locations the birds could have picked. There's no guarantee that the birds won't move to another location around the house, but at least now, they are blocked from nesting over the front door. Our hope is that when these birds relocate, they will choose to leave the property completely.
Recently, I was sent to a home in Point Pleasant, NJ to help a homeowner deal with a troublesome bird infestation.