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Humane Wildlife Animal Removal - Hawkeye

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Pest & Problem Birds

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.


Browse the images provided here for some of our work, examples of swallow nests and the alternative housing that we have built.



Resources and Information: Swallow Housing Design Details See Nesting Structure Designs » Please refer to Ontario Regulation 242/08 s. 23.5 of the MNR.

The public's affection of birds can lead us to ignore serious health risks that are associated with pest birds. People who would never tolerate a colony of rats living in their attic will turn a blind eye towards pigeons entrenched in the rafters of their roof. Yet, in terms of disease and damage, the two pests are quite similar. In order to better understand how nuisance birds (or rats for that matter) spread disease, it helps to understand the basics of disease and transmission.

 seagull health hazard

What is a Disease?

Diseases caused by foreign invaders into the body are known as "infectious diseases". The invading agents responsible for the majority of infectious diseases are grouped into five categories; viruses, bacteria, mycotic (fungal), protozoal and rickettsial. From a layman's standpoint, the classification and definitions of disease are less important than how these diseases spread, and how can we protect ourselves from them. Diseases need to be transported from place to place in order to spread. Birds are a perfect mechanism for spreading disease as they easily travel across great distances. Birds can carry over 40 types of parasites and host over 60 types of infectious diseases.


How Pest Birds Harbor and Spread Disease

Infectious diseases are carried by birds in the following ways: the disease lives in the bird and is passed on in bird feces/ poop, when the bird defecates; the disease lives near the bird's environment and; the disease lives inside the bird as a parasite. From understanding how the bird harbors diseases, we can demonstrate the four ways the diseases are passed by the bird to humans.


Food & Water Contaminated with Feces

The most obvious example is when the diseased bird directly defecates into human food or a water source. In the summer of 93, New York faced a health crisis when several hundred people came down with a mysterious ailment that was traced back to sea gull droppings in an old city reservoir.

Health inspectors are quick to shut down a food processing plant if nuisance birds are found inside. Besides direct contamination, airborne spores from drying feces in air ducts and vents can settle on exposed food and transfer infectious disease. Several cases of food poisoning (Salmonella) every year can eb traced to this transmission route.


Inhalation of Fecal Dust

When bird feces and/or the contaminated soil it rests on, dries or is disturbed, microscopic pieces break off and become airborne. These airborne particles can contain fungi and/or bacteria. When inhaled by humans,  the warm, moist environment inside the lungs provides a breeding ground disease and resulting health issues. Common symptoms of this type of infection are flu-like: coughing, elevated temperature, restricted breathing and general body fatigue, lasting two to four days. The bodies defenses will contain the invaders even before minor symptoms appear, but in a small percentage of cases, major infection causing long term disability or even death can occur. There is no medical cure for internal fungal infections.


Contact With Feces

Infection occurs when a worker or resident gets fecal dust or droppings in an open wound or cut. This can happen when handling old rusty, sharp porcupine wire ledge products covered with bird poop/feces. The wound site becomes red, puffy and puss-filled. Antibiotics are often needed to cure the infection. In some rare cases, infection of the blood (septis) or internal infection can also occur causing serious illness or death. Proper attire and care must always be used when cleaning a bird site or installing bird control products. If a cut or injury occurs, thoroughly wash and disinfect the wound and cover with a sterile bandage to minimize risk of infection.



Pest birds harbor ticks, fleas, mites and other parasites. Parasites that live on birds can pass disease between different species. The parasite bites an infected animal or bird, and sucks in blood containing the disease. When the parasite bites its next victim (such as a human or other animal) it passes the disease to the new victim. Over 40 types of parasites can live either on the birds, in their nests or in the places they roost. They are responsible for the transmission of several hundred viral and bacterial agents. These diseases include plague, encephalitis, West Nile Virus, pox and meningitis. Control of these parasites is a crucial phase of any bird control project. If not done by a professional, this threat can be aggravated by the incorrect installation of bird control products . If the parasites are properly exterminated after birds are excluded from a site, the mites, fleas, ticks etc. will seek a new host, often the human inhabitants. A proper bird control project should always include cleaning and disinfecting.


How to Handle Pest Birds Problems From A Health Perspective

Using our understanding of how nuisance birds play a roll in disease transmission, we can develop a few guidelines when dealing with bird infestations. When evaluating a health risk potential, the professionals at Hawkeye look for: droppings or nesting materials inside air vents, birds around food or beverage production facilities, or large amounts of droppings in enclosed or open areas. These are the types of situations where disease can be easily spread.

A few pigeons around your park bench may not be not cause for panic, but 20+ birds living in the rooftop air ducts of a restaurant is a serious health concern that requires immediate and effective action. Pest control professionals and do-it yourselfers must take the proper precautions when tackling bird control projects. Respirators, goggles and protective clothing must be used when cleaning up bird sites, particularly enclosed areas out of the sun with large amounts of droppings and nesting material. It is not enough to only remove the birds, all potential sources of infectious disease and/or parasites must be properly exterminted and thoroughly disinfected.

According to Neal Langerman, of the American Chemical Society, pigeon droppings contain ammonia and salt which, when combined with rainwater, lead to electrochemical reactions that rust steel and cause serious structural weaknesses. Mr. Langerman noted that if the exrement isn't washed away, it dries out and turns into a concentrated salt. When water gets in and combines with the salt and ammonia, it creates small electrochemical reactions that rust the steel underneath.

This is thought to be one of the contributing factors in the collapse of Bridge 35W in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 01st, 2007 - killing 13 people.

It is believed the build-up of bird excrement over many years sped up the rusting of the steel beams in the eight-lane bridge.

Structural engineers had been aware of the problem since as early as 1987, when inspectors noted a coating of guano on the inside of some of the steel girders. In 1996, screens were installed over openings in the bridge's beams to keep pigeons from nesting there, but that did not prevent the building of droppings elsewhere.

Bridge inspectors everywhere are aware of this problem: The Colorado Department of Transportation spent so much time cleaning pigeon droppings off bridges that a two-year research project has been launched, looking for ways to keep pigeons away.

"Pigeon Droppings are damaging to our structures because they are acidic and have other compounds that can dissolve especially things like concrete," said Patricia Martinek, the agency's environmental research manager.

With its large quantities of bacteria and highly corrosive uric acid, pigeon excrement is partly responsible for disasters such as this bridge collapse, as well as the damage of concrete and countless historical stone structures.

According to Venice's department of fine arts and historic monuments, pigeons cause the most damage "to plaster and stucco used on the exterior of buildings and the mortar used in restoration work".


pest bird control grackleThese large iridescent blackbirds are one of the most abundant breeding birds in North America. They will nest in dense colonies with as many as 10 to 30 pairs.


 Their diet varies widely from animal and vegetable food. They are becoming a serious threat to the agriculture industry especially during the winter and migration months.

Grackels may also become extremely nest aggressive and are known to attack humans if they venture too close to their nests.


Removal / Control

Removal of Grackles is most successful when employing Falconry using live Birds of Prey, Pyro Technics, and/or Capture Netting™. Waking, Exclusion, and Trapping are also common methods of dealing with this bird.


Grackel Damage
Grackels are becoming a serious threat to the agricultural industry, especially during the winter and migration months. They may also become extremely nest aggressive and are known to attack if humans should venture too close to nesting places. Grackels