Did you know that barn swallows can eat as much as 60 insects per hour? Talk about a voracious appetite! If you’d like to have some of this natural pest control find its way to your property, read on to learn all about how to attract barn swallows.
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How to Attract Barn Swallows to Your Yard?
Barn swallows are blue and brown birds that eat lots of insects–what’s not to love about having them hang out on your property?
The thing is, you won’t be able to attract them just by putting out birdseed or suet feeders. You may have to work a little harder to get them to visit your property.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to attract barn swallows. With patience and a bit of effort, you can transform your yard into an ideal hangout for these beautiful birds.
1. Install Nesting Boxes, Cups, or Platforms
Traditionally, barn swallows tended to build their nests in caves. As human populations grew and expanded, the birds discovered that the eaves and rafters of barns made for excellent nesting sites as well–hence the name “barn swallow.”
These birds don’t necessarily need nesting boxes; they may build their nests under the eaves of your house, shed, or garage without any encouragement.
However, if you’re trying to attract them to your property, setting up nesting boxes or shelves will give them a multitude of options to choose from. The more places they can find to nest on your property, the better your chances of attracting them and keeping them coming back year after year.
One particularly attractive option is nesting cups. You can make your own barn swallow nesting cups or find them online.
To learn how to build your own, check out this video:
These cups simulate the mud cups barn swallows make to build their nests in, and studies have shown that the birds prefer to use them over building their own cups.
Hang these cups in sheltered areas, such as under the eaves of your house, at least 8 to 10 feet above ground and about six inches from the underside of the eave.
2. Offer Water Sources
Barn swallows drink from ponds, streams, and water troughs by flying low and skimming their beaks across the water’s surface.
Having ample water sources on your property will help to attract these birds. Not only will they be able to drink and bathe all they want, but they will have a ready source of water and mud for making their nests.
3. Don’t Use Insecticides or Pesticides
As mentioned, barn swallows eat insects–lots of insects. Since insecticides reduce insect populations, they also reduce the barn swallow’s primary food source.
If you want barn swallows, don’t use insecticides. The barn swallows themselves will supply adequate pest control once they take up residence on your land.
Using pesticides is also a bad idea. Not only will they reduce insect populations, but they may also be harmful to the barn swallows.
4. Let the Grass Grow
Barn swallows are attracted to prairies and grasslands because insects tend to thrive in these regions. If you have a large enough property, leave a section of it unmowed and allow the grass and weeds to grow wild.
5. Avoid Planting Trees
Barn swallows prefer wide open airspaces that allow them to fly freely and hunt for food. If you have a few trees in your yard, they may just fly around them; but if your yard is full of trees, they may fly on to clearer areas where searching for food won’t require them to navigate an obstacle course.
6. Create Mud Puddles
In addition to having water sources, swampy or soggy areas with plenty of mud will also attract barn swallows since they use mud to build their nesting cups.
Keep a low area of your yard filled with water, or designate a section of your garden to be a mud hole. If there is plenty of mud readily available, the barn swallows will hardly be able to resist setting up home on your property.
7. Leave the Windows Open
As mentioned, barn swallows prefer building their nests in sheltered parts of your house, garage, shed, or barn. This can include not just under the eaves but inside the buildings as well.
Of course, you probably don’t want barn swallows getting into your house, but if you have a little used shed or garage, or some other sort of outbuilding, leave a window open. This will allow the birds to find shelter on their own, giving them access to nooks and crannies that might have otherwise been closed off to them.
8. Don’t Disturb Old Nests
Barn swallows put a lot of work into building their nests. First they have to construct the mud cup, then they have to line it with soft grasses and feathers to make it suitable for their young.
Because of the work that goes into building them, adult barn swallows often return to the same nests year after year.
For this reason, if you spot what looks like an abandoned barn swallow nest on your property, leave it alone. Chances are, the pair that built it will return to the nest next spring or summer to raise a new brood of babies.
The exception is artificial nesting cups. During the offseason, once all the babies have left and the barn swallows have begun migrating south for the winter, clean out the old nest and any bird droppings found in the cup.
Barn swallows are more likely to return to a cleaned-out nesting cup. Once you have cleaned it, hang it back up in the same location so the birds can find it again next spring.
Barn swallows are beautiful birds that can help control the insect populations around your property. There are many ways you can attract them to your yard, such as providing nesting boxes for them and leaving plenty of open, wild spaces for them to fly and hunt.