Swallows

Swallows are small birds that are 12 to 15 cm in length. The male swallow typically has white undperparts and blue upperparts  though in fall, the upperparts may appear greenish. The female swallow has duller, brownish upperparts and greyish underparts.

Habits & Behaviours

Swallows are migratory birds found throughout Ontario. They migrate to South America for the winter and return in the spring. They are very territorial and colonies will often return to the same nesting site year after year. Swallows are active and travel during the day, catching flying insects along the way. Swallows are known as nuisance pest birds due to their nesting habits. Typically, swallows construct their mud nest under eaves, in corners of structures, on or under beams, or similarly protected sites. The construction of these nests can cause extensive damage and staining.

Complaints & Destruction

Swallows construct their nests out of mud, grass, hair, and feathers. The nests are cup/ball shaped, are almost as hard as concrete, and adhere well to sides of houses and buildings, under eaves, on or under beams, or other protected areas. Swallow nests damage and deface the outer walls and eaves of residences and business properties. Feces often smears on the sides of houses and buildings and collects on the ground. The fecal bacteria can contain histoplasmosis, salmonella, meningitis, and other diseases

Although swallows eat enormous quantities of insects which is beneficial to people and to the environment, there is an irritating parasite that these birds carry with them wherever they go called swallow bugs. These blood-sucking parasitic bugs live on the bodies of the birds and feed on blood. Swallow bugs are similar to bed bugs in appearance and they bite like fleas. Wherever swallow infestations are found, insect pest control is usually necessary because these swallow bugs will invade the property and multiply rapidly. They can also survive in vacant nests for up to 3 years.

Major Risks & Dangers

Health risks

Swallow droppings contain infectious diseases such as histoplasmosis, salmonella, and meningitis. Droppings on pavement can become slippery when wet posing a safety hazard to passing pedestrians and allowing droppings to be tracked into buildings. Swallows carry specific parasites called swallow bugs. These parasites can invade properties and pose a health risk to humans and pets. Dead and decomposing swallows can cause displaced parasites and other pest infestations.

Structure & surface damages

The swallow’s destructive nesting habits and corrosive droppings can cause extensive surface damage and staining to homes and buildings.

Reproduction

Female and male swallows are monogamous birds that mate for life. They breed in the spring and typically raise one or two broods annually. Swallows lay 3-5 eggs per brood and the male and female swallows take turns incubating the eggs for 13 to 16 days. The young are nourished by both parents during the first weeks of life and they are ready to fledge the nest between 16 and 24 days.

Eating Habits

Swallows are insectivores, eating mainly flying insects, including mosquitoes and other harmful species.

Prevention

To reduce the risk of swallows resting, scavenging, or nesting around your residential, recreational/cottage, or commercial property, bird proofing/exclusion is the best prevention.

Greenshield Pest Control Inc. can provide you with many bird proofing/exclusion services and solutions.

Due to  the dangers associated with bird feces, you should never attempt to exclude a bird infestation yourself. Swallows are a protected species and if colony of swallows nesting on your residential, recreational/cottage, or commercial property, it is best to let the professionals do the job of safely and humanely removing the birds, decontaminating the areas affected, and providing you with exclusion/proofing services to prevent further infestations. Please contact us today or see our Bird Control Services section for further information on the types of services and solutions we can provide.

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