Identifying Swallows

While the U.S. is home to a variety of swallow species, two regularly come into conflict with humans. The barn swallow and cliff swallow are migratory songbirds that build their nests out of mud. They have pointed wings, small heads, and are known for the intricate twists and turns they make while flying. Both species have dark, metallic blue plumage with touches of white and rusty orange, though barn swallows are further identified by the forked appearance of their tails. Other common species, such as tree swallows, are more brightly colored, with blue-green backs and white bellies.

swallow in treeSwallows in the Backyard

Most swallows nest near water and make homes in the cavities of trees, but the barn and cliff varieties have some special preferences. Both build their homes on vertical structures, choosing the sides of houses, barns, sheds, and culverts. These birds are most often seen flying in the mornings and evenings when they feed and play with one another. Many people commonly think that swallows look like bats, especially at dusk. However, a swallow's presence is identified by the shimmer of its iridescent feathers.

Problems & Removal

Due to swallows' social nature, large infestations regularly occur in backyards. Though beneficial in eliminating insects, their presence comes with excessive droppings that mar lawns, sidewalks, and houses. Swallow colonies also deface siding with multiple mud nests. In fact, the birds often choose to live on front stoops and porches frequently visited by humans, since their predators avoid people. As if this weren't enough, swallows have a tendency to sing loudly at dawn. When an unwanted choir moves into the yard, seek help from the experts at Critter Control to identify and humanely remove swallows.

swallow in flight