Lipstick for goats

Lipstick for goats

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Welcome Swallow?

They’re back!  Where do they go during winter?  I know Spring is upon us when the Welcome Swallows swoop back in.  As these birds zoom in under our house veranda they remind me of jet fighter planes on manoeuvres with their aerobatic flying skills, changing direction at the absolute last minute to swoop back out after drooping a poo bomb!

The name ‘Welcome” swallow comes from sailors who knew that the sight of a swallow meant that land was not far away. I am not sure how welcoming I feel towards them but I love watching their acrobatics in the air as they catch insects on the wing.

The swallows build a cup shaped mud nest lined with feathers and fur on any vertical wall; no protected spot out of direct sunlight is out of bounds as far as they are concerned.  Even above a door.

There were four in the bed and the little one said "Roll over! Roll over!", so they all rolled over and one fell out.

Well I am sorry this year the battle line has been drawn, this chicky is donning armour and meeting the determined little enemy head on.  Nests under construction will be knocked down. All means to get the swallows to build elsewhere will be employed!

Yeah, I know it’s a bit rough to call these cuties enemies but before you decide I am a mean, ungrateful woman and should be jumping for joy to be living with all this beautiful nature I must tell you swallows make a huge unhealthy mess wherever they nest and come back year after year to the same spot, bringing their extended family with them. Mud nest after mud nest start appearing under the veranda ceiling, breezeway and over doors and windows.

The mud stains the wall surface but that is not the worst of it, they poo! They poo unlike any other wild bird I have had the pleasure to share my living space with, they are filthy! Heaps and heaps of poo beneath where they roost. They are pooing machines.

      Yes that is a huge pile of poop below the nest, the floor below is not much better

This nest was between two buildings in a small enclosed breezeway that makes up our little farm house. This in itself is a huge problem. The smell from the excreta is strong and simply breathing in the dust spores from it can make a human very ill.  In swallow’s (and other birds) excreta, there are various kinds of bacteria and parasites causing very severe diseases for humans, such as histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, and toxoplasmosis.  The health risks are as great as if having a colony of rats living in your roof. 

I tried hanging compact discs in an effort to scare them away to no avail. This pair happily sat right next to one obviously deciding the shiny spinning object would keep their babies amused while they were off hunting insects. You can see the beginnings of the mud nest under the bird at the top.  

Last year I allowed two nests to stay as one already had eggs laid in it and the other had baby birds; see I’m not so mean!   

Three to five eggs are usually laid.  There are four babies in this nest.

My  arsenal this year started off with toy snakes. The swallows simply landed on top of them, so like the compact discs, snakes were a massive fail. This has been followed up with bird netting. They are so determined to build nests they began to attach their mud to the net.  

I try to embrace all country nature, fur, feathers and scales, as I am the intruder, but I am sorry swallows, as cute as you are with your zoro mask, your mud nests and mess  are not welcome around my living space.  By all means come swooping in to visit, just build your homes  in any of the hundreds of trees we have.

On second thoughts I won’t be embracing brown snakes, they are still not welcome nor are ravens but ravens are another story.