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15 Tips on How to Get Rid of Barn Swallows [Humanely]

barn swallow

Barn swallows may be a joy to watch as they cruise about gracefully, but your fuzzy feelings about them will change when you’ve got unsightly mud nests and smatterings of droppings all over your home. Here are the best tips on how to get rid of barn swallows fast and humane way!

1. Install a swallow nesting shield

A long time ago, barn swallows used to make their homes in caves. But centuries of living with humans have convinced them that man-made structures make even better nesting sites.

There are several ways to stop barn swallows from building a nest, but among the best barn swallow deterrents is the swallow nesting shield

It is a plastic strip with monofilaments attached to it. Secure the plastic strip on overhangs, eaves, entryways, gables, or anywhere in your home that looks like an ideal spot for a barn swallow nest. The monofilaments will hang down to the ground.

bird deterrent

How does that get rid of barn swallows, you might ask. The suspended monofilaments are annoying to bird wings, much like a stray strand of hair moving against your skin is distracting. 

To make their nests, barn swallows need to fly close to the wall, but with these pesky filaments hanging over them, it’s not easy. They’d much rather look for a different place to make their homes.

Note that this barn swallow nest prevention method will only work if you cover all the spots they could nest in. If you don’t, the birds will just look for a different spot in your house that doesn’t have a swallow nesting shield hanging over it.

2. Install a bird deterrent flying kite

If you want a good barn swallow prevention method, you’ll need something that will immediately scare birds off without even laying a talon on your roof. 

And a great way to do that is to install a bird deterrent flying kite. Attach securely to a surface and let it fly up on windy days. 

Barn swallows will see something large and unnatural moving erratically in one area and will learn to associate that place with danger. Given this principle, you might think any old kite would do the job. 

flying kite with bird design

But this bird deterrent flying kite is designed with even more features to keep barn swallows away. It is usually shaped like a large bird of prey and uses colors and patterns that are usually associated with predators. 

Black helps create contrast with the daytime sky. The red and yellow colors are arranged to look like the eyes of a dangerous animal. It even has a reflecting surface as an additional anti-swallow feature.

Bird deterrent flying kites are also made for outdoor use. These are more durable than your run-of-the-mill kites, so you don’t keep losing them when the wind is particularly strong. 

3. Deter barn swallows with lasers

If you want to keep swallows from nesting, you can’t just remove empty nests and leave it at that. 

They can easily pick a different part of your home to use, and you’ll have to wait for the nests to be free of occupants before you do swallow nests removal again. 

So if complete barn swallow removal is your goal, you need to use a combination of different methods. 

A good option is to use a swallow-deterring laser device. This emits strong, bright laser lights that move in unexpected patterns. The strength of the light allows it to cover a greater area. 


So how is a little bit of light going to get rid of swallows, you might ask. When birds see unpredictable movement from a strange moving object, they won’t dare go near. 

Swallows are generally cautious creatures and won’t tempt fate when they can’t figure out a pattern.

These devices are installed as easily as plugging them in and facing them in the direction where you expect the barn swallows to show up. 

If you’re worried about your electricity bill, you can adjust the setting such that the device emits light every 5, 10, or 15 minutes. That way, it won’t stay on all night.

4. Deter with electronic sound deterrent

Another way of getting rid of barn swallows with sound is to use an electric sound deterrent. 

Instead of emitting annoying, high-pitched sounds, this emits sounds typically associated with danger and distress calls.

This device has prerecorded soundbites of predators. When a barn swallow hears this, it will immediately think that the area is not safe for him and leave. 

There are different predator sounds, which will make your property sound like the watering hole for everything that could hear the swallow. 

pest deterrent

To add to the effect, the device has prerecorded bird distress signals. 

This reinforces the belief that your home is a danger zone because there appear to be so many birds meeting their demise in it.

This is not only a good way to keep swallows from landing on your property, but it also serves as an effective barn swallow nest deterrent. 

Mud swallows would not want to lay their eggs and take care of their young in a place that seems to be full of predators. 

5. Install barn swallow bird spikes

Swallows, like all birds, like to perch. It gives them a rest from the energy-expending business of flying around. 

If a certain area has no viable spots to reset their weary wings, you can be sure they’ll cross that out from the shortlist of potential homes. 

To successfully deter barn swallows from your property, install barn swallow bird spikes on strategic ledges. 

The prickly rods jut out from the ledge, preventing birds from perching comfortably. It’s easy to install as these usually come in short segments with 2-3 spikes on them. 

bird spikes

You can space them close together so the spikes are concentrated, or you can put a bit of space in between each to cover a larger area. 

Just make sure that the spikes barr entry to space in between segments. Otherwise, the birds will just hang out in them. If you’re scared that these spikes will hurt birds, you don’t have to worry. 

They jut out annoying and make for an uncomfortable seat, but they are not sharp enough to injure birds. This is a harmless method of discouraging swallows and other birds from sitting on your ledges. 

6. Wash away mud nests frequently

A good way of keeping swallows from building nests is by washing them away before they’re done.

But before that: Any attempt to remove their nests should be made if and only if you are absolutely sure there are no eggs or baby swallows in them. 

Remember that these birds are protected by federal law, and there is a specific clause stating that touching nests that have chicks or eggs in them will require a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Failing to do this is a crime.

If you plan to wash away the mud nests, you should first check your local laws on swallow nest removal, as in some states, it is illegal to touch even the empty nests.

barn swallow nests

Once you are sure it is legal, watch out for when nest-building starts. They migrate back to breed anytime from April to September, but the timeframe will depend on the state and the weather conditions. 

Keep an eye out for the first signs of nesting, then act quickly. Make sure to wash off the mud at the beginning of the building process, and not when they’ve finished and have started laying eggs in them.

Once these birds understand that it’s futile to build in your home, they’ll move. Just wear protective equipment and have an easy way to escape from aggressive barn swallows that are angry; their hard work is being destroyed.

7. Install an owl scarecrow

If you’re scratching your head over how to get rid of barn swallows, think about what they’re scared of. 

These little birds may fly quickly to avoid predators, but if that predator can fly too, they lose their advantage. That’s why barn swallows are deathly afraid of owls and other birds of prey.

An owl scarecrow serves as a swallow deterrent if used properly. Remember that mud swallows aren’t scared of owl statues. They’re scared of owls. 

So if you want to make the most of an owl scarecrow, you have to make it as realistic as possible. This owl decoy scarecrow is a good choice. It’s lifesize, 3D, and hand-painted in the natural colors of owls. 

owl decoy

It has a sensor that can detect movement from up to 10 feet away. This triggers natural owl sounds and red flashing eyes that closely mimic that of the real predator. 

It’s solar-powered, soaking up energy while it’s doing its job on your lawn, but there are also rechargeable batteries in case the sun isn’t out. 

But even with all these features, if the owl decoy stays in one place forever, you can expect the swallows to catch on eventually. 

If you want to successfully get rid of barn swallows birds using an owl decoy, you should move it every 3-5 days.

8. Offer a decoy barn swallow nesting house

If you can’t bear to destroy the homes these birds worked so hard to make, you can assuage your guilt by giving them a better one.

This is also the perfect solution if you want to deter barn swallows from nesting in your home but don’t actually mind that they hang around. 

After all, they’re great at controlling insect populations and they’re pretty fun to watch. 

Decoy barn swallows nesting houses are a way to get rid of those mud-encrusted eyesores on your home without getting rid of the birds that make them. These are designed to follow the natural barn swallow nests.

bird nests

It is usually a crescent-shaped pocket of a durable material like concrete securely fastened to a plank of plywood. To install it, simply nail the plywood to the wall of your choosing.

To get swallows to choose your built-in nest versus making their own one with the mud, you need to make it as authentic as possible. 

You can put a little hay inside and leave a pile nearby so they can build on it. Installing more than one in the same area will encourage them to stay there, as these barn swallows live in groups.

By providing them with a home, you can choose where in your property they live and give them a place to live that won’t be an eyesore to your home. 

9. Use an ultrasonic bird repellent

If you’re looking for an unobtrusive way to repel barn swallows, you might want to use the power of sound. 

Swallows and other birds have a more sensitive sense of hearing–after all, they heavily rely on this to detect danger and to heed mating calls. 

You can use that sensitivity to your advantage by using an ultrasonic bird repellent. 

An ultrasonic bird repellent is a great way to keep swallows away without having an obvious visual barn swallow deterrent on your property. This small device packs quite a punch. It emits annoying, high-frequency sounds when its sensor is triggered. 

bug deterrent

There are different audio settings for you to choose from. Most of them are ultrasonic or above the frequency heard by humans, allowing them to target animal pests that have a wider hearing range. 

But not that some sound settings may be detected by human ears, so place this far away from nurseries or children’s bedrooms as it may be irritating.

It’s best to put this where barn swallows usually perch or nest. The good thing is, it’s very easy to set up. 

If you want to get rid of barn swallows on the porch, you can hang it on a railing. If you want to get rid of barn swallows in your shed, you can drive the mounting pole into the ground beside it. 

10. Implement liquid bird deterrent

You may be hesitant to try a swallow repellant because you fear chemical residues that are harmful to both animals and humans, but there are liquid bird deterrents that are designed for safe use.

One of the best barn swallow repellents uses methyl anthranilate. It may sound like a scary chemical, but it is actually a derivative of concord grapes. 

If you’ve ever smelled this substance, you might think it was grape juice. So how to get rid of swallows using this innocent-smelling chemical? Studies have shown that methyl anthranilate causes nasal trigeminal irritation. 

bat repellent

That means the smell irks the nasal cavity of birds, causing them to avoid it. The effect of this swallow bird repellent is temporary, so it does not cause harm to the animals.

To use this swallow repellent spray, you may mix with water or apply as is. It can be placed in a spray bottle for a more convenient application over a large area or applied using a brush in painting motion for a heavier cover. 

This compound is safe for use and is, in fact, marketed as a bird deterrent to protect crops, fruits, and animal feed. Even then, best to make sure to keep it out of reach of kids and pets as it may be irritating if ingested or rubbed into the eye.

11. Remove food sources

Aside from nesting, another reason a bunch of mud swallow birds might make your home their own is that there’s a steady food source nearby. 

So to get rid of barn swallows, you’ll not only have to make nesting difficult for them, but you’ll also have to get rid of whatever eat-all-you-can buffet that is keeping them there.

Barn swallows eat mostly flying insects like flies, beetles, butterflies, bees, moths, wasps, and more. Why just these insects that fly, you might ask? 

That’s because these little fellows almost exclusively feed in flight! If you weren’t dead set on getting rid of them, you might actually enjoy watching them snatch a bite mid-air. 

This means that insect control is equal to the barn swallow control. If you hear buzzing or see winged insects flitting around your garden, it’s time to get rid of them. 

Without a food source nearby, these little birds will find your home much less attractive. 

Your method of control will largely depend on the insect swallow food you have on your property, but just make sure that it targets only the insects and not the birds. 

That means avoiding toxic substances and poisons that may be ingested by animals. 

12. Remove old swallow nests

If you want to keep barn swallows from nesting but really do not want to risk hurting any baby birds or eggs, you can choose to wait for the flock to migrate before removing any mud nests. 

This way, it’s safe to wash away all the nests because they would not leave any young behind.

This makes a big difference because barn swallows are known to return to the exact same nests every year. 

It might be a rude surprise for them to find that their nests have been washed away during their holidays abroad, but this (combined with other swallow control methods) will stop swallows nesting on your house for good.

barn swallow nest

Check with your state laws first to see if touching old nests without a permit is prohibited. 

Removing old swallow nests is all about timing. To make sure you don’t commit a crime by accidentally touching active nests, you’ll have to know when these birds leave the country. 

Usually, they fly off to warmer climates when the temperature dips. They’re usually gone from October to March, but it differs depending on where their breeding ground is.

Do your research to find out when swallows usually leave your state. If it’s been seven days since you last saw a swallow among the nests, then you can schedule your cleaning-out day.

13. Install a bird netting

If you want to protect your home from a barn swallow invasion, an effective option would be to block their access to the places they want to nest in. 

This group of birds are quite particular, where they make their own: eaves, ledges, and rafters are their favorite spots. They like to build their nests on a vertical surface very close to a ceiling.

Bird netting is a popular option for people who are trying to get rid of flying pests stealing their space or crops. It is very easy to use for swallows because of their unique nesting behavior. 

bird net

You only have to install netting in a few parts of your home because they’re so picky about where they build their nests.

The good thing about bird netting is that it’s easy to customize depending on your space, even if it’s irregularly-shaped. Measure the area you want to cover, cut the appropriate amount of mesh, and secure. 

The installation requires a trip to the hardware store to get what you’ll need to put it in place, which includes corner attachments, perimeter cables, net ring loops, among others. 

Granted, bird netting may take time and effort to install, but if you want to deter swallows, it’s a worthwhile investment.

14. Scare barn swallows with reflection

Barn swallows are migratory birds and therefore protected under the law. Harming or killing one is a crime and carries consequences. 

Luckily, no one needs to resort to violent means to scare away barn swallows. One of the easiest and most effective ways to deter barn swallows is by using the power of reflection.

Many birds, including the barn swallow, are easily frightened by sudden movement, even if it’s a reflection of their own flying. 

Reflective surfaces catch the light, and the sudden, unexpected flash can deter them. Another good thing about using barn swallow deterrent method is how easy it is to DIY.


You can use old CDs, small mirrors, or aluminum foil. Simply hang them from a string in places where swallow birds nest and chances are, they’ll keep away.

While it’s easy to make your own reflective mud swallow deterrent, there’s still value in buying from the store. 

These are specially designed to catch the light and make an erratic movement, which packs a one-two punch in getting rid of swallows and other birds. 

You can pick a sleek-looking wind-powered reflector bird deterrent that is easy to install in different parts of your home. Another good option is a set of bird deterrent reflective spirals that are made to catch wind and light.

15. Call a professional

If you’ve tried multiple barn swallow repellent and deterrent products, but have had no luck in getting these birds to leave your house alone, then maybe it’s best to call in the professionals.

Wildlife control services are the best people to turn to if you have an out-of-control mud swallow problem. 

Make sure to pick one that is properly registered, compliant with environmental laws, and have a good reputation in your area. 

They may be more expensive than do-it-yourself solutions, but the expertise they have amassed over the years and the equipment that they have invested in are sure to get rid of your swallow problem once and for all. 

This is also a good option if you want to get rid of active bird swallow nests. They will apply for the appropriate permits from the government and will likely be approved because of their expertise in the matter. 

They will know what is needed to safely remove eggs and baby swallows in a way that is in line with environmental protection laws. 


3 thoughts on “15 Tips on How to Get Rid of Barn Swallows [Humanely]”

  1. Avatar

    Just put a plastic walmart bag close to their nests. they can’t stand the bags movement in the wind. the closer to the nest the better.

  2. Avatar

    you show an ultrasonic bird repellent. It seems to fit my needs though I am unable to find one like that. I have swallows on a small porch 4’X4′ w/a 12′ ceiling and the swallows keep building nests. I have a 110 outlet on porch about 2′ off floor. Would this be able to project sound high enough to keep swallows from building nests on light fixture. I want something that works and not too expensive. I am 71 years old and can’t keep climbing up a ladder to the light fixture clean.
    Jimmy t

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