For the Birds

I had written earlier about how nice it was to see the mud swallows as the built their nests around the barns. I really like having them around to eat their weight in bugs, but recently they have decided to start building their nests on my house. When I looked out onto the porch, the cement was littered with bits of dried mud.

Mess left on concrete from the mud swallows building a nest.

When in the nest-building stage, the swallows are quite messy in their construction techniques. Slopping mud this way and that, their home is constructed one mouthful at a time.They try to build on the little gap where the gutters and downspout meet, they love the little ledge just above the door of the back porch, and today they started to tack mud onto the rock above the big bay window.

I use a broom to sweep down the first stages of their homes to discourage the little troublemakers, but they are a determined bunch.

I moved onto the next round of deterrence, flapping things. A few pinwheels, a couple of balloons, and mylar streamers made the house rather festive. Wouldn’t you know it, the wind wouldn’t cooperate and the birds flew around the brightly colored objects. One even tried to start his nest on the nail that held some of the streamers.

Onto the next defense, I brushed down all the offensive mud and grabbed a strong smelling household cleaner. I’m not going to mention the name but I am willing to say that my front porch smelled (insert southern accent here) “like a Carolina pine forest”. The birds don’t care for the odor. They swoop in, get a whiff, and swoop back out without depositing their mud. This approach works great for about an hour, then the scent wears off and they are back to building in earnest.

Now is the time to start a little DIY, a do-it-yourself, bird deterrent project. It all starts with a box of moth balls and netting. The netting can be bought at any fabric store, if you plan on moving your project around rather than surrounding the whole house, you will only need a piece of netting 3 inches wide. The fabric store will cut it for you off the bolt. It will cost less than a dollar. (The employees at the fabric store will chuckle at you)

This project may look silly but it works.

Roll the mothballs into a row inside the piece of netting. Make a knot in the netting after each moth ball to hold it securely inside the fabric and keep them evenly spaced. This row of mothballs can then be tacked up to the area where the mud swallows are attempting to set up housekeeping. I move the row when the swallows move to the next spot.


I used to just set the moth balls directly into the nest and found that the swallows would simply scoot the mothball out with their beaks. The moth balls  would break as they hit the ground making a bigger mess.

If the nest is in progress, the moth balls can be pressed into the wet mud, but that still leaves a dried up partial nest attached where it is unwanted.


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