How to Get Rid of Barn Swallows? | 8 Prevention Tips

Written by Thomas Matthews

Barn swallows are pesky birds not only for farmers but also for homeowners as they construct and attach unsightly mud nests assembled out of leaves, twigs, and trash in buildings and other structures. They also like to crowd in groups, making quite a scene in places they nest in!

So, how to get rid of barn swallows? You can get rid of barn swallows permanently by using bird spikes, ultrasonic repellents, owl scarecrows, netting, removing sources of food, disposing of old nests, using reflective materials, and installing a flying bird deterrent kite.

Want to know more? Keep reading this guide and find out about barn swallows, the potential problems they could create, and how to efficiently prevent them from entering your property as humanely as possible.

Swallow Identification

Swallow Identification

What Are Barn Swallows?

Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) are territorial, diurnal, and migratory birds that are widespread in their geographic range and often spotted in large social groups. Despite experiencing a considerable population decline, there is still a whopping 200 million population globally!

They are characterized by their small size, reaching up to 8 inches in length and 20 grams in weight as well as their long, distinctive deeply-forked tails, steely blue-black upperparts, and beige lower parts. Females are less vibrant in color and have shorter outer tail feathers.

These birds are adaptable to a wide variety of habitats—tropical or temperate? Urban or suburban? Savanna or grassland? You name it! They are usually found foraging in open areas near sources of water and enjoy nesting in man-made structures like barns, bridges, sheds, boat docks, and other out-buildings.

What Do Barn Swallows Eat?

Barn swallows are considered insectivores, which means they mainly consume insects such as mosquitoes, flies, crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles. They catch prey and drink water both in the middle of flying, making them efficient in reducing pests.

In fact, bird enthusiasts express their sadness when they migrate during the fall to South America as this means there will be no naturally-occurring ways to control mosquito populations.

Where Do Barn Swallows Nest?

They construct their cup-shaped nests made out of a mix of grass, mud, and feathers then connect them to outbuildings. Barn swallows prefer having dark nooks, ledges, and crannies they can nest in as they provide the right temperatures during both cold and hot weather. They can produce 3 to 7 eggs per breeding season.

Related: How to Get Rid of Grackles | Proven Tricks to Repel Them

Do Swallows Cause Problems?

Issues Caused by Barn Swallows

It’s no question that barn swallows are of environmental importance since they are able to effectively control pests in their vicinity. However, we cannot simply ignore some concerning problems they cause.

For one, their fecal droppings are a displeasing sight in buildings and other structures. They are also a health hazard to both humans and livestock since they can transmit salmonella.

Moreover, they can destroy facades or parts of buildings while nesting, especially if they come in large colonies, and even attract other pesky animals that feed on them such as raccoons and rats.

Related: How to Get Rid of Purple Martins | 6 Tips for Successful Bird Control!

What to Consider When Choosing the Appropriate Bird Repellent?

Although everyone may have different experiences with keeping barn swallows away, selecting the most effective method necessitates careful consideration.

  • As such, the following must be considered:
  • Cost-effectiveness—you’d be surprised to know that inexpensive methods are more efficient than relatively expensive ones!
  • Safety not just to humans but also to other animals, especially if you have pets
  • Location of your property or building and climatic conditions in your area as some methods may be ineffective if you live in a place where rain is common
  • Longevity and durability so it’s worth the time and effort it takes to employ them!

Related: How to Get Rid of Myna Birds | Essential Tactics to Follow!

How to Get Rid of Barn Swallows?

Deter With Ultrasonic Repellents

These devices give off high-frequency ultrasonic sounds that are irritating and uncomfortable to barn swallows but are otherwise safe for human ears. However, be mindful when you purchase one as some bird repellants can cause people to cringe! Place ultrasonic repellents near their nests to discourage swallows from coming back. 

Broox 2024 Upgraded Solar Animal Repellent, Cat Repellent Outdoor, Squirrel Repellent, Deer Repellent, Ultrasonic pest Repeller, Waterproof Motion Detection, Dog, Raccoon, Skunk, Rabbit, Rodent
  • Do you have problem with unwanted animals in your area, garden,...
  • Repel animals in a humane way: Broox squirrel repellent outdoor,...
  • Solar Powered and Waterproof (normal rain): With a solar panel on...
  • Human Design: Cat Repellent only repels animals without any...
  • Easy to Install and Wide infrared sensor range: Simply charge the...

Related: Does Ultrasonic Rodent Repellent Work? | All You Need to Know!

Install Barn Swallow Bird Spikes

Bird spikes, although the term sounds ominous, are effective contraptions that in no way hurt barn swallows when they come face to face with them. They are simply barriers meant for show and should be strategically placed on rooftop edges, ledges, and other nesting and landing sites.

DE-BIRD Defender Spikes, Bird Deterrent & Cat Repellent Outdoor to Keep Cats Away, Easy-Install Plastic Bird Spikes Anti Theft Strips, 20pk [20 Foot]
  • Simply screw the squirrel repellent strip on a fence or stick it...
  • The rabbit repellent outdoor has anti-climb spikes to guard...
  • The chipmunk repellent outdoor or bird repellent can be easily...
  • The bird spikes for outside can be split every 4 inches to fit on...
  • Great value! Get 20 pieces of 1 ft skunk repellent spikes in each...

Install Netting

Establish netting made of heavy-duty material that is resistant to weather, wearing, and tearing, around large open areas and semi-enclosed spaces such as rafters, eaves, indoor eating areas, and gardens to prevent the birds from entering these sites.

Feitore Deer Fence Netting, 7 x 100 Feet Anti Bird Deer Protection Net Reusable Protective Garden Netting for Plants Fruit Trees Vegetables Against Birds and Other Animals
  • ❤ Size: Size: Deer netting size 7 feet x 100 feet; garden...
  • ❤ Strong & Reusable: Tough deer fence barrier netting is made...
  • ❤ Safe & Economical: The 3/4 inch square mesh design of our...
  • ❤ Easy to Install: Easy to use roll of anti bird deer...
  • ❤ Enjoy Your Fruits: Don’t let birds, deer, dogs or other...

Install an Owl Scarecrow

Since owls are one of the most common predators of swallows, it would be a good idea to visually prevent barn swallows from establishing nests on your property by placing an owl scarecrow where they can easily be seen by the birds. Make sure to relocate it every now and then to ensure that the birds are properly scared off.

Feitore Deer Fence Netting, 7 x 100 Feet Anti Bird Deer Protection Net Reusable Protective Garden Netting for Plants Fruit Trees Vegetables Against Birds and Other Animals
  • ❤ Size: Size: Deer netting size 7 feet x 100 feet; garden...
  • ❤ Strong & Reusable: Tough deer fence barrier netting is made...
  • ❤ Safe & Economical: The 3/4 inch square mesh design of our...
  • ❤ Easy to Install: Easy to use roll of anti bird deer...
  • ❤ Enjoy Your Fruits: Don’t let birds, deer, dogs or other...

Remove Food Sources

Dispose of any sources of food that insects can swarm onto. This way, you will make your property look less attractive to barn swallows who enjoy eating insects. Employ the necessary natural or chemical pest control methods to keep the insects at bay.

Related: How to Get Rid of Flesh Flies? | Identification and Control Guide

Remove Old Swallow Nests

One reason why you have a barn swallow infestation in your area is that there are still old and unused bird nests attached to buildings. As such, you must promptly remove them from your property using personal protective equipment and clothing to reduce parasitic contamination and other health concerns.

Related: How to Prevent Birds Nesting in Roof? | Information and Control Guide

Scare Barn Swallows With Reflection

Objects made out of shiny or reflective materials such as mirrors, tape, or even old CDs can be used as visual deterrents against barn swallows. Dangle these reflective objects near existing and potential nesting sites to scare the birds away from your property.

Related: How To Get Rid of Magpies by Scaring Them? | Tips and Guide for Keeping Them Away

Install a Bird Deterrent Flying Kite

Kites made to look similar to birds of prey such as falcons, owls, and hawks, can effectively frighten barn swallows. To install, place a bird deterrent flying kite near your shed, barn, or building to create an illusory decoy of the birds’ predators.

After installing, make sure you hide them first in your house or garage before using them again the next day as kites used to threaten the lives of birds back in 2020 when kite flying was prevalent in India.

What Home Remedy Keeps Birds Away?

Don’t have the money, time, or manpower to install the methods mentioned above? Here are some ways you can keep barn swallows away from your property in the comfort of your own home:

  1. Spice-based bird repellent: Combine water, dish soap, and cayenne pepper in a bottle and spray it on areas where barn swallows usually go to. The strong spicy smell and taste will irritate the birds and efficiently ward them off.
  2. Essential oils: Generally, birds are quite sensitive to essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. As such, you can mix a few drops of any of these oils with water then spray it in places that barn swallows frequent. Make sure to keep them out of reach of pets as they may be poisoned. 
  1. Visual deterrents: Hang or fasten objects that are shiny and reflective near existing and potential barn swallow nesting sites. You can use aluminum foil, plastic twirlers, bright-colored plastic strips, or windmills. These objects can easily repel barn swallows due to their movement and reflection. 

Can You Destroy a Barn Swallow Nest?

Can You Destroy a Barn Swallow Nest

Legally, no. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 prohibits the taking of barn swallow nests unless granted a permit by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Permit Program.

However, once you process and obtain the necessary permits, you should first contact and consult with your local wildlife professional on the most appropriate time to remove a barn swallow nest. Usually, it is done before or after nesting season.

Related: American Coot Control | Best Strategies for Effective Management

How Do I Stop Swallows From Nesting in My Shed?

Barn swallow nesting in sheds is more common than you think. To discourage them, simply follow the methods below:

  1. Install bird spikes or netting to shut off any space they can perch and construct nests onto a landing or elevated surfaces.
  2. Employing visual repellents such as reflective or shiny materials, predator scarecrows, or flying bird deterrent kites.
  3. Regularly clean and sanitize the areas they presently nest in or can potentially inhabit. You’d be surprised how a thorough cleaning can be so effective in deterring barn swallows! 

List of Sources

Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (n.d.). Barn Swallow.
Hurley, J. A. (2020). Birds, Bees and Bats: What do you do when you encounter them.
U.S. General Services Administration. (2016). Methods Of Bird Control: Advantages And Disadvantages.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service. (n.d.). Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
University of California – Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. (n.d.). Cliff Swallows.
University of Michigan – Museum of Zoology. (n.d.). Hirundo rustica: barn swallow.
Wayne, A., & Krupa, L. (2018). Are essential oils dangerous to pets?
Windbiel-Rojas, K. (2014). Excluding Migratory Birds from Buildings.

Thomas Matthews
Follow me