Swallows feed on insects and spend a large part of each
day in the air catching flies, beetles, and mosquitoes. Their long pointed
wings give them great speed and maneuverability. Normally, swallows
are not seen on the ground except when collecting mud for their nests.
Most do not have musical voices but only twitter or squeak.
The cliff swallow is 5 to 6 inches in length and is the only square-tailed
swallow in California. In contrast, its long, deeply forked tail distinguishes
the barn swallow. The cliff swallow is also recognized by its pale,
orange-brown rump, white forehead, dark rust-colored throat, and steel
blue crown and back.
These small, nimble birds enjoy special legal protection. Once they
have laid their eggs in the nest, you can not disturb them. You must
wait until they leave to remove the nests
and then exclude them using BirdSlide installed along the underside
of the eaves at an angle to prevent them from building their nests there
the following year.
Swallows and the law
Swallows and their nests are fully protected under the Migratory Bird
Treaty Act of 1918, which makes it illegal to intentionally kill, injure
or take any migratory bird. It is illegal to intentionally damage or
destroy the nest, eggs, or young of a swallow while it is being built
or in use. The Act allows fines or prison sentences for every bird,
egg or nest destroyed.
Cliff swallows and barn swallows are slender, sleek birds
that spend their spring and summers in North America. Swallows are very
territorial and will return to the same nesting site over and over.
Buildings, eaves and other structures often replace cliffs these days
to build their distinctive mud pellet nests (see photo at right). Swallows
have brownish red faces and light colored bellies. Cliff swallows have
squared off tails, but barn swallows have long forked tails (see top
photo). Young swallows have similar coloring, but lighter.
Swallows are small birds with dark glossy backs, red throats, pale under
parts and long distinctive tail streamers. They are extremely agile
in flight and spend most of their time on the wing. They are widespread
breeding birds in the Northern Hemisphere, migrating south in winter.
Recent declines due to loss of habitat quality in both their breeding
and wintering grounds mean they are an Amber List species.
Amber-list species are those with an unfavorable conservation status
in Europe; those whose population or range has declined moderately in
recent years; those whose population has declined historically but made
a substantial recent recovery; rare breeders; and those with internationally
important or localized populations.
Damage Caused by Swallows
Swallows are often a nuisance in suburban areas as they
build their mud nests that damage and deface the outer walls and eaves
of residences and office buildings. Swallow feces often end up on the
sides of buildings and the ground below from the colony of birds in
residence. Building owners report extra clean up costs and concern over
slip and fall liability from swallow dropping buildup, plus an unclean,
dirty company image. The bacteria, fungal agents and parasites found
in swallow droppings and nests can carry hosts with serious diseases,
including histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, toxoplasmosis
There are many swallow proofing products and techniques used to prevent
swallows from nesting. The proofing is usually done after legal removal
of the swallow's nest is finished. Many pest control companies use netting,
wire, and scare techniques. Abolish uses a more effective proofing product
without visually sacrificing your homes exterior. The use of nets, bird
gel and wiring is not only ineffective at times, it is also unpleasant
to the eye. Abolish is a certified BirdSlide installer. Birdslide, The
effective way of preventing Swallows from nesting.