Barn Swallows are a flying favorite for bird watchers everywhere, but for homeowners, these birds can be a real pain. They migrate in the thousands, reuse old nests, and can accumulate a massive amount of bird poop in a short time despite their small size.
Getting rid of Barn Swallows can be tricky, especially when you realize these birds are protected in the United States and in Canada by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
But don’t worry – if Barn Swallows are driving you bananas, there are a few humane and legal tips, tricks, and remedies you can use to get rid of them.
Keep reading to find out how to get rid of barn swallows.
What Are Barn Swallows And Why Do I Have Them?
Barn Swallows are some of the most common and most widespread Swallows in the world.
Before we dive into how to get rid of barn swallows, let’s first talk about why you might have them.
Barn Swallows are small birds, growing no larger than 6 ½ inches in height. They are identifiable by their orange faces, dark blue backs, and orange underbellies.
They are distributed throughout the United States and, though they once were known to dwell and nest in caves throughout the United States, they now prefer man-made structures.
Though called Barn Swallows, these swallows are not keen on just barns. They prefer any mad-made structure with a covered roof or protective shelter. Eaves, awnings, loose roof tiles, porches, and even window ledges will serve as the perfect nesting point for these birds.
Barn Swallows are monogamous, which means they mate for life, although they do live a polyamorous lifestyle from time to time. Female Barn Swallows are capable of laying two clutches of eggs each year, with about three to five eggs per clutch. With a lifespan of about four years, a single Barn Swallow can produce up to 40 young in her lifetime.
Luckily, Barn Swallows are migrant birds and rarely stay in the same place long. Still, they migrate in massive groups and it is illegal to remove Barn Swallows when they are nesting, and it can be tricky to get rid of them due to the fact they are considered a protected species.
But if you’re looking into how to get rid of Barn Swallows, you’re in luck. Though you may have trouble removing them, it is often simple and humane to wait them out and then deter them from coming back around next time.
But why do you have Barn Swallows at all?
These birds are highly intelligent and crafty animals. They build strong, half-circle nests in areas that will keep them and their young protected from predators. These nests are so resilient, in fact, that Barn Swallows will often reuse old nests when migrating or looking for a new home.
If you have abandoned barn swallow nests around your property that you haven’t gotten rid of, it’s a good idea to do so. Keeping old barn swallow nests around is like hosting an open house for these birds, allowing them to pick and choose their ideal real estate around your home.
Another reason you may be looking into how to get rid of Barn Swallows could be due to a pest issue. Though pesky, Barn Swallows can make wonderful pest control agents in moderation.
They feast on a variety of insect pests including aphids, flies, lovebugs, ants, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, spiders, moths, and more. They are slow flyers but agile hunters, and their talent for capturing prey means that you may enjoy having a few Barn Swallows around from time to time.
However, due to the large groups Barn Swallows migrate in, their presence can be more of a problem than a solution. These birds can be quite messy, and produce a good amount of droppings wherever they reside.
Their droppings are not only slippery, difficult to clean, and damaging to cars and siding, but these droppings could also be riddled with bacteria and germs that can make people sick.
For this reason, it’s best to protect your home from Barn Swallows, even if you find them amusing and beautiful. With that noted, it’s time to talk about how to get rid of Barn Swallows and keep them from coming back.
How To Get Rid Of Barn Swallows – Identifying A Barn Swallow Problem
Barn Swallows are easy to identify, and if you have a problem you will likely know it.
Identifying a barn swallow problem is relatively easy, but it’s key to determine that you do have Barn Swallows so you can get rid of them accordingly. The birds themselves will often give an invasion away, though some other telltale signs include:
Dry Mud Nests
Barn Swallows are notorious for building semicircle mud nests that stick to structures like glue. These nests are sturdy and often withstand a variety of elements, which means they can commonly be reused again by either the same returning Barn Swallows or other Barn Swallows passing by.
These nests may be built in clusters depending on how many Barn Swallows you are dealing with. They will most commonly be found below eaves, beneath porches, barn sidings, beneath rafters or posts, or anywhere else that a barn swallow deems safe and sheltered.
An Accumulation of Bird Droppings
Though Barn Swallows are relatively small when it comes to birds, they flock in a large group. This means they can quickly accumulate a large number of droppings. Bird droppings are not only unsightly, damaging, and slipper, as we mentioned above, but these droppings can also be dangerous.
In fact, Barn Swallows can carry a number of dangerous fungi and bacteria that can lead to serious illnesses in their droppings including salmonella, histoplasmosis, and even meningitis.
The Barn Swallows Themselves
While Barn Swallows do leave and often migrate south in the colder months, they are known to return to the same nesting ground when they fly home. This means that your home could be a repeated target of these birds, especially if you don’t take time to figure out how to get rid of Barn Swallows and keep them from coming back.
How To Get Rid Of Barn Swallows – Steps and Methods
Getting rid of Barn Swallows is not as difficult as you may think.
Although Barn Swallows are protected, and although they are known to return to their old nesting sights after migration, these birds are surprisingly easy to manage and control. Best of all, when it comes to how to get rid of Barn Swallows, most methods are human, cost-effective, and efficient.
Step 1: Be Patient
For the most part, getting rid of Barn Swallows means exercising patience until they leave on their own. Remember, it is illegal to get rid of nesting Barn Swallows. Breeding season for Barn Swallows is likely when you’ll struggle the most with these birds, and it’s the time when they can be the most frustrating.
Breeding season for Barn Swallows often lasts from March to September. After this, the birds typically leave their nests in search of warmer weather.
Step 2: Remove Abandoned Nests and Clean Up
Once the birds have vacated their nests, you’re free to remove those nests from your property and surrounding structures.
Because Barn Swallow nests are generally made of mud and other natural debris, it’s often easiest to wash them away using a high-powered hose. Avoid tearing the nests down if the nests are on painted siding, as this could damage the paint.
It’s also a good idea to clean and sanitize the areas where Barn Swallows have been living since their droppings can be harmful to people. We also suggest wearing a mask and gloves to better protect yourself when cleaning up after Barn Swallows.
Step 3. Pest Control
When wondering how to get rid of Barn Swallows, you should also take a look at why you have Barn Swallows. Like all pests, Barn Swallows are attracted to three primary things; food, water, and shelter.
Their diet consists primarily of insects, so one of the best ways to deter Barn Swallows is to get rid of their meal train.
Implementing a good year-round pest control regiment in your yard and garden can greatly reduce the number of Barn Swallows who choose your home as their nesting ground.
Step 5: Invest In Repellents
Now that you’ve removed the old nests and implemented a good pest control regiment, it’s time for the grand finale.
Barn Swallows are known to return to old nesting grounds, but you can ensure they receive the message that they are unwelcome by installing barn swallow repellents around your property.
There are plenty of products and repellents you can use, and you also have the option of making your own.
Let’s take a look now at the best products for how to get rid of Barn Swallows.
Best Products For How To Get Rid Of Barn Swallows
Along with removing nests, it can be helpful to purchase products to get rid of these pests.
Technically, you’re not getting rid of Barn Swallows. You’re more or less ensuring they don’t come back once they’ve migrated. This means that the majority of our products for how to get rid of Barn Swallows are going to include products that repel them, such as sound and light repellents, ultrasonic repellents, bird spikes, and more.
Luckily, most repellents for how to get rid of Barn Swallows are non-toxic and safe for people, pets, and the environment. Furthermore, these repellents are also humane when it comes to removing these birds.
You have several options when it comes to products for how to get rid of Barn Swallows, but we are going to list our favorites here for you to consider.
Take a look.
Bird B Gone MMSWALLOW
One of the most effective products you can use for how to get rid of Barn Swallows comes in the form of deterrents. The above deterrent comes in discrete hanging tassels that are designed to be hung below eaves and other areas that Barn Swallows are attracted to.
They work by irritating the birds but not causing them any harm. These tassels simply make it unpleasant to try and build a nest in certain areas.
Not only does this product work for how to get rid of Barn Swallows, but it also works to get rid of bats and other nesting pests attracted to similar areas.
XPCARE Scare Tape
As we will discuss in more detail below, birds like Barn Swallows are tremendously afraid of shiny objects. Scare tape is an inexpensive and easy-to-use tool for how to get rid of Barn Swallows around your home.
This tape is durable and reflective and designed to withstand the elements outdoors so it is long-lasting. This product is also free of any chemicals, and it is a humane and safe method you can use for how to get rid of Barn Swallows.
Place this double-sided scare tape in areas where you have noticed barn swallow activity and soon the birds will avoid these areas altogether.
Hausse Fake Horned Owl Scarecrow
Barn Swallows may not have a wide variety of predators, but they do have predators nonetheless. One of their biggest enemies is the horned owl. This bird of prey is known to attack and eat Barn Swallows, so the small birds have a natural fear of this large raptor.
Of course, getting a live horned owl to establish residence on your property could be difficult and time-consuming. Furthermore, it could lead to other issues around your home.
Instead, we recommend investing in scarecrows or decoys like the above Hausse Fake Horned Owls. These owls look like real horned owls and, when placed in areas you have noticed Barn Swallow activity, these owls can help get rid of the birds and keep them from returning to nest again after migration.
Bonide Animal Repellent
Another option you have for how to get rid of Barn Swallows is to use a repellent like Bonide Repels-All spray. This repellent helps deter a number of animal pests including deer, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, possums, and Barn Swallows.
The spray works using a combination of ingredients that are irritating to animals including dried blood, garlic oil, and eggs. The smell causes irritation to animals’ nasal passages and thus helps keep them at bay.
This product is perfectly safe for homes and gardens, and it is also biodegradable, meaning it is safe for people, pets, and the environment.
Cainda Horrible Predator Eye
The name may sound funny, but the Horrible Predator Eye by Cainda is no laughing matter when it comes to how to get rid of Barn Swallows. This simple yet effective product comes in a pack of five and includes attachments for easy hanging.
They are designed to resemble birds of prey eyes’, which will deter smaller birds like Barn Swallows from nesting or flying anywhere within the eyesight of this creepy product.
They are free of chemicals, reusable, and offer 24/7 protection from not only Barn Swallows but woodpeckers, pigeons, sparrows, and doves.
Bird-X Bird-Proof Gel
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If you’re looking for a more discreet way for how to get rid of Barn Swallows, you can always try Bird-X Gel. This gel comes in a long-lasting formula that goes on discreetly and helps repel birds like Barn Swallows from nesting near or on specific structures.
The product comes in an easy-to-apply tube, and 12 tubes can cover up to 125 linear feet. Best of all, this gel is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and is a safe and humane way to repel Barn Swallows without harming them.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control Spray
There are a few methods you can use when it comes to how to get rid of Barn Swallows, but one of the most effective forms of barn swallow control is regular pest control. Remember, Barn Swallows have a healthy appetite for a variety of insects, and they will be more likely to hang around yards and gardens with an abundance of their favorite foods.
To help make your home less hospitable to Barn Swallows, we suggest investing in a quality pest control spray you can use year-round. A spray we recommend is Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control Spray.
This spray comes in a 32-ounce container and treats up to 5,000 square feet. It is made of all-natural ingredients and is safe to use around children and pets, while also being safe for the environment.
Wondercide Pest Control Spray works on a number of pests that Barn Swallows like to feast on, including fleas, roaches, flies, ticks, mosquitoes, crickets, Japanese beetles, and more.
How To Get Rid Of Barn Swallows – Best Products For Cleaning And Self-Protection
Prevention is key when it comes to the barn swallow.
Although Barn Swallows themselves are not dangerous, their feces can be. For this reason, when working on how to get rid of Barn Swallows and especially when working on cleaning up and removing barn swallow nests, we suggest you implement protective gear like facemasks and gloves.
You may also want to invest in high-pressure hoses or devices to help you completely remove the nests from around your property without causing damage.
Take a look here at some of our favorite products for cleaning up after Barn Swallows and protecting yourself in the process.
Dr. Puri Micro-Dust Protection Face Mask
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Cleaning bird poop is difficult, especially once it has dried. Worse, barn swallow bird poop is loaded with bacteria and fungi that can lead to serious illnesses. These illnesses can be transmitted when the feces is disturbed and particles are inhaled, so we suggest wearing a mask during cleaning.
It’s likely you are already familiar with wearing masks these days, and finding a mask shouldn’t be too difficult. Of course, if you’re looking for a good mask specifically for this type of work, we recommend Dr. Puri New Micro-Dust Protection Mask.
It is specially filtered and designed to block 99% of NaCl particles.
WholeSun Electric Pressure Washer
Pressure washers can come in handy when trying to get rid of barn swallow nests. This is especially true considering barn swallow nests are made of mud and can be washed away easily with some pressure.
The above power washer can be corded, electric, or battery-operated depending on your needs. It comes in two color options and can be used for a multitude of cleaning purposes around your home and property.
How To Get Rid Of Barn Swallows Yourself – DIY Methods
Barn Swallows are certainly interesting and can be fun to watch, but they can also cause quite a bit of damage.
If you would prefer to get rid of Barn Swallows on your own without spending any money, you’re in luck! There are plenty of home remedies you can use for how to get rid of Barn Swallows easily, humanely, and legally.
As with most do-it-yourself pest control options, making your own homemade bird repellent spray for how to get rid of Barn Swallows comes with its fair share of pros and cons.
Furthermore, birds are unique in that they are not as sensitive to certain ingredients that many other types of animals are sensitive to. This includes ingredients like chilis or cayenne pepper.
However, birds are sensitive to garlic, and placing garlic around your home and near barn swallows preferred nesting grounds is a good way to help deter them.
You can use this method by simply cutting fresh garlic cloves and leaving these cloves in areas you have noticed Barn Swallows, or you can use diced garlic from the store and sprinkle it around your garden and near your eaves and awnings.
Garlic works two-fold when it comes to how to get rid of Barn Swallows. Not only will it deter these birds with its strong smell, but garlic will also help deter a number of other pests including rodents and insects.
We should note here that garlic can be toxic for dogs if ingested. For this reason, we don’t recommend using garlic for how to get rid of Barn Swallows if you have pets who enjoy playing in your yard or garden or pets that are prone to eating things they find outside.
Make Your Own Bird Repellent Spray
Another home remedy you can use for how to get rid of Barn Swallows is to make your own bird repellent spray. Because garlic is one of the most common ingredients carried in kitchens throughout the United States, chances are you’ll already have the number one ingredient needed to make this effective concoction.
- 8 Cloves Fresh Garlic
- 2 Cups of Olive Oil
- 1 Glass Jar
- 1 Spray Bottle
Making your own garlic oil to use as a method for how to get rid of Barn Swallows can be a bit time-consuming, but it is an effective home remedy nonetheless.
Simply crush the garlic cloves and add them to the glass jar. Pour in the olive oil and mix the concoction, then allow it to sit for five to seven days.
After that time period, the garlic and oil should be well mixed and pungent. You can drizzle this mixture directly around your garden or you can add the garlic oil to spray bottles with two cups of water and spray the mixture around areas you have noticed a good amount of barn swallow activity.
Repeat this process as needed.
Place Shiny Objects Near Nesting Sights
Although it’s still somewhat of a mystery as to why birds are deterred by shiny objects, the fact holds true. Birds are often frightened by shiny tape, mirrors, or other reflective objects that catch the light.
To deter Barn Swallows, you can place bits of mirror around your home where you have noticed them nesting. You can also try hanging old CDs around your property, or even using flashing lights or bits of metal.
Invite The Predators:
Last but not least, one of the easiest ways to repel Barn Swallows is to ensure your yard is abundant with its predators.
Barn Swallows are frightened of a few larger predatory birds like owls and hawks. Attracting these types of birds to your home can be challenging but it’s not impossible. You also have the option of purchasing scarecrow versions of these predators as well.
How To Get Rid Of Barn Swallows and Keep Them From Coming Back – Let’s Sum It Up!
Barn Swallows may be beautiful, but they can be challenging.
Since Barn Swallows are considered protected birds in the United States, removing them while their nesting may not only be tricky but also illegal. The good news is that these birds can be easily deterred once you know what they don’t like.
The best way to get rid of Barn Swallows and keep them from returning is to be vigilant. Look out for early signs of Barn Swallows around your home or property and be aware of when Barn Swallows are mating and nesting.
Remember, the months between March and September are when you’ll likely see the most activity from Barn Swallows, and this is the time you may find it’s most difficult to get rid of them.
If you are proactive, invest in the right repellents and products, and keep up with routine pest control around your home to keep the insects at bay, then controlling Barn Swallows should be a piece of cake.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on how to get rid of Barn Swallows, and now we’d like to hear from you!
Did you realize Barn Swallows are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.