Control Swallows from Nesting on Your Home

July 31st 2008
Control Swallows from Nesting on Your Home

Canada is home to many different species of birds. Some birds inhabit marshlands or forests and stay clear of human contact, and other smaller species such as swallows will make their nests in barns or even build onto our homes. I recently received an inquiry from a homeowner, from the Lower Mainland, who has some unwanted guests nesting on the outside of her home, specifically under her soffits - the unwanted guests in this case, are swallows.

Typically swallows build their nests in areas with an overhead shelter to protect themselves from the elements as well as predators. Their nests are usually cup or ball-shaped and are built with pellets of mud and are lined with grass, hair or feathers. This makes their nests very hard and helps them to adhere to buildings.

Nests are usually found at the highest point of the structure and may have other nests attached below. It is not uncommon for swallows to build more than one nest on a single structure. Not only are their nests unsightly, but their droppings will stain structures as well. Since swallows are protected by international treaty, a permit must be obtained to remove a nest. However, removal of nests will not deter birds from rebuilding, as they will return each year unless "exclusion" measures are taken to permanently deter nest construction. Exclusion refers to the installation of a device or devices to prevent or deter a bird or animal from using an area for harbourage or roosting purposes.

While swallows can be very problematic to a homeowner, there are several other types of birds that are also likely to cause havoc. Pigeons, starlings and sparrows are also very common pest birds, depending on your location. These birds are similar to swallows in that their nests are located in areas that are somewhat sheltered. Examples of these areas include inside or under soffits, roof overhangs and junctions, and beams. Since these birds are not protected, there is no permit needed to remove the nest(s), although if there are babies in the nest, you should wait until they are fully matured before any removal takes place.

For any pest bird, proper exclusion needs to be installed once the original nesting sites are removed to prevent any future invasions. This can be done using wire mesh, bird netting, bird spike, shock strip or piano wire, depending on the surface and structure the nest is on and what type of bird is in the area. It's also important to ensure that all droppings are thoroughly cleaned, as birds' droppings contain numerous types of diseases and pathogens that could be harmful to people or animals. Bird droppings can also be acidic, causing damage to the surface, usually in the form of discoloration. Ensure that proper respiratory equipment and protective clothing are worn during nest removal and cleaning, to prevent any contamination or inhalation of diseases associated with fecal matter.

Due to the high risk in removing bird nests and their droppings, as well as installing bird exclusion devices, we always recommend contracting a professional installer. You can find a reputable contractor through Shell Busey's Home Service Referral Network. A professional contractor ensures that these unwanted guests will be humanely removed, allowing you to enjoy our Provincial wildlife the way it should be enjoyed - from a distance.