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Swallows Print E-mail
Native birds of North America, with 8 species of swallows present in the U.S. with Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows the most common; barn swallows are also considered native to Europe and Asia.

All swallows are insectivores, feeding on a wide variety of flying insects or occasionally those on the ground, and serve a valuable role as beneficial predators. While they are a great natural help with garden pests, swallows bring their own problems and therefore it may be wise to keep them from your nesting on your property. Foraging is done in groups, and adults may fly as far as 4 miles from their nest sites to seek food resources. Both species spend the winter in South America, beginning their migration north in late winter and early spring, generally entering an area as food becomes available for them along the way. They re-enter the U.S. in mid-March to mid-April, and reach the northern areas of their range by early June. They tend to move back to previous nesting sites, often arriving in groups within a 24 hour period, and will re-use nests that have remained through the winter. Nests are constructed of mud, cemented to a surface such as under eaves of structures or under bridges, and lined with grasses inside.

Swallows are typically infested by Swallow Bugs, a species of bedbug, which lives in the nests and may spread by walking from nest to nest or by traveling on a bird. These blood feeding parasites can reduce the health of nestlings and cause their death, and may live for up to 3 years in a nest without feeding. Heavily infested nests may be avoided or abandoned by adult birds. Egg laying may begin before the mud nest is completed, with 3 to 4 eggs laid. Cliff swallows have 1 or 2 broods each season while Barn swallows have two broods. Young hatch in about 2 weeks and can fly in about 3 weeks. Once the young have left the nest the swallows may not inhabit the nests, but will stay in the area, finally beginning migration south in late summer.

Generally dark colored with the upper side being shiny steel blue with varying amounts of orange on the neck and rump areas. Barn swallows are distinguished from other swallows by the deeply forked tail, and the Cliff swallow is distinctive for its squared-off tail. Swallows are almost entirely insect eaters, catching much of their food during flight, and the flight is distinctive in its gliding, swooping habit.

Bird Control: All swallows are classified as migratory non-game birds and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Other than exclusion and repelling, any control that may harm the birds is permitted only under supervision of regulatory wildlife agencies, and only when depredation of structures is occurring. Once a nest is completed it must be assumed that eggs or young are in the nest, and it cannot be harmed or molested. Natural pest control is the primary solution: as nest building begins an effort should be made to knock or wash partial nests off the structure to discourage completion of the nest at that site. Once birds have migrated for the winter all nests should be removed or they may be re-used by returning birds. Pest problems from swallows include their parasites, which readily bite humans as well; the fecal droppings that may accumulate below; and falling nests that may land on machinery or other sensitive surfaces.

Please call Vanish Pest Control to arrange for one of our Bay Area pest control experts to come help you exterminate your bird problems
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