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Swallow Control (Barn Swallows) and Alternative Housing for Swallows

new barn swallowDo you have swallows nesting in your industrial or commercial property? If you need them removed, you must follow specific guidelines per the Ministry of Natural Resources and Canadian Wildlife Services. This includes obtaining a permit and creating alternative housing before you can remove, relocate nests or deter the birds from your property. Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control can help you obtain the right permits, provide abatement services and build you alternative housing for swallows, also known as barn swallows.

Swallows are a small, pretty bird with bluish colouring on the top of their head and back, orange face and neck and pointed wings. They are common in many parts of the world including Asia, Europe, Africa and north and south America. While pictures of them capture what appears to be a beautiful little bird, for many industries or businesses, their nesting habits can turn them into a pest bird. They commonly find their way into parking garages, structures, covered areas of industrial areas, overhangs from roofs, bridges, culverts and much more. They create a unique nest from other birds by using mud to create a cup nest. Swallows eat small insects and can capture them during flight. The Ministry of Natural Resources has deemed swallows as a threatened species. This means that they are not yet endangered but are at risk of endangerment if measures are not taken to save them.

Because they build nests primarily on man-made structures, that is one of the factors threatening their existence as more and more housing developments acquire rural properties, barns as well as more farmers modernizing their barns which leaves less access to ideal nesting conditions (ie. Wood build structures). When you accompany those factors with the increased use of pesticides on crops, we have also reduced the quantity of available insects that are needed for swallows to eat.Swallows are great for the environment because they eat mosquitos and directly help curb or control mosquito population, which in turn reduces the risk of mosquito carrying diseases like West Nile.

Because swallows are protected by the Ministry of Natural Resources there are regulations around removing access to their nests, disturbing their habitat and deterring them from a property.


Typically, if you are provided a permit to complete work and remove a nesting area, you must:

  • Minimize the effects of your activity on the barn swallows (Nests may only be removed before May 1 and after August 31 in any year
  • Create and maintain new habitat including nests for the birds for a minimum of 3 years
  • Provide alternative housing at a 1:1 ratio for every nest removed
  • Report any sightings of rare species to the MNR
  • Monitor the habitat you create
  • Prepare and maintain records relating to the habitat and its activities


Nest Cup Requirements

A nest sized container that may be used by barn swallows is typically made of wood, although other materials may be used. Barn swallows usually reuse old nests and freshen it by replacing old feathers with new and patching with new mud where necessary. Artificial nests mimic real nests, and should be made or bought in the following approximate dimensions: 25cm circumference, 13cm diameter, 1.5cm thickness, about 4cm height. Nest cups are available commercially or may be made - usually of wood The nests must be installed in the building or structure from which the original came as long as the building or structure continues to provide suitable nesting conditions.

The nests can be installed in any building or structure that is within 1 km of the original building if it provides suitable conditions for barn swallow nesting.

The nests can also be installed in any building or structure that you can erect within one km or the original structure that meets the requirements of the MNR regulations. Suitable Nesting Conditions Buildings or structures that have been constructed or modified to create nesting habitat for barn swallows must have suitable conditions for nesting:

  • Provide horizontal ledges or rough vertical surfaces with a sheltered overhang
  • Provide enough surface area suitable for nest attachment at a height to minimize disturbances and away from predators
  • Allow the barn swallow easy entry and exit to the nests
  • Provide suitable area to accommodate appropriate spacing with nests
  • Be structurally sound and capable of providing habitat on a long term basis for the barn swallow.


The Ministry of Natural Resources requires permits for any work involving Barn swallows if you are altering, tearing down or changing in any way a structure that has nests in it or on it. If barn swallow nests need to be moved for health and safety reasons authorization is still required from the MNR prior to proceeding with any activity. If you do not follow the rules you will be breaking the law and can be charged.

Hawkeye would use techniques like birds of prey and other scare tactics such as bangers/noise makers as well as exclusion measures to effectively prevent nesting. Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control will assist you in this process to ensure you have the applicable permits required to create an alternative housing option for them. We will use the proper equipment like manlifts, face masks and complete the tedious daily removal routines of any material before the swallows come back to re-nest.

Our birds of prey would fly near open doors and prevent access of swallows. Contact Hawkeye today for a free assessment.


Resources and Information:  | Please refer to Ontario Regulation 242/08 s. 23.5 of the MNR.


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