Help the swallows by setting up nests

Mistreated by the loss of their habitat, swallows are becoming increasingly rare. An ancestral belief considers them as lucky charms when they settle under the roof of a house, but this is of course not the only reason why they must be preserved!

Artificial wall with holes for swallow nests

Why should we help the swallows?

Swallows are subject to several factors that play an important role in their rarefaction:

  • intensive farming practices put in place the previous century and continuing have undermined the populations of swallows. Causing a lack of food through the massive destruction of the insects on which they fed, but also the filling of wetlands (ponds, ditches, puddles …) which provided them with construction materials for their nests, this type of agriculture did a lot of damage.

  • the rarefaction of reed beds which they love so much to prepare for their migration, has only accentuated the phenomenon;

  • urbanization and architectural changes which offer fewer spaces conducive to the installation of nests, without forgetting the rehabilitation of facades or the total destruction of the old buildings where they had until then nested both in town and in the countryside, have gradually pushed them aside.

Swallows, legally protected birds

For several decades the populations of swallows have been worryingly declining, this is why these birds benefit from legal protection status. According to Article L 415-1 of the Environmental Code, a 6-month prison sentence with a fine of up to

9 146,94 euros is applicable in the event of damage to this beautiful bird (destruction, mutilation, capture, kidnapping, disturbance, transport, detention, sale, destruction of nests or eggs …).

The law of July 10, 1976 (Articles L 411-1 et seq.) of the Environment Code as well as the ministerial decree of 29/10/2009 govern this protection status.

Recognize the swallow to better protect it

In Europe two species share the spotlight:

  • Delichon urbicum, better known as window swallow ;

  • rural swallow called Barn swallow or Chimney swallow.

The first, black and white, has a short tail, it is preferably installed outside buildings, just under the roof or in a window frame.

The second is black / bluish above, fawn on the plastron and above the beak, as well as white / cream on the abdomen. Its tail is slender. They preferably nests inside buildings, especially in old barns, disused warehouses, stables or stables. Early, young chicks leave their nests about 20 days after hatching, while those of the window swallow take longer to do so (up to 1 month).

Facilitate the natural installation of nests

In order for swallows to come to your home, they need three simple things:

  • of mud to build their nests. Leave ruts, keep wet areas like swamps, streams, puddles and ponds.

  • from a place located in height, therefore inaccessible to predators and protected from rain;

  • of food. The swallow is strictly insectivorous, promote biodiversity in your garden so that the insects are very numerous, especially the Diptera which it loves. Leave natural areas where weeds can grow at leisure

Keep the nests in place

Admittedly, the excrements left on the ground in front of the carriage doors are not very tasty, but there are simple solutions to overcome it, such as laying a board 40 cm under the nest in order to collect the droppings before they are crushed on the ground. Note that these droppings once collected and diluted constitute an excellent fertilizer for your plants!

If a nest must be destroyed for a facelift or modification of the building always wait for October before acting, then replace it on the new structure with an artificial nest. The swallows are very faithful to their nests and return to it year after year after migration, so replacing a nest if it really needs to be destroyed is very important.

How to install an artificial nest for swallows?

If natural nests are already present on the building, it is because the area is suitable for the establishment of these birds. The artificial nests will then be installed to reinforce the population. For this, it will be necessary to wait until the birds already present begin their migration to install artificial nests without disturbing them, or between October and the end of February.

If no nest is present yet, be sure to provide ideal conditions for the installation of swallows: a water source or a wetland in the spring, food in abundance thanks to a preserved biodiversity and relative tranquility.

Where to find artificial nests?

Once these parameters have been met you will be able to provide artificial nests on the Internet or directly from the LPO (Bird Protection League).

If you are a handyman, there are plans, in particular to facilitate the installation of the swallow rustic by building structures suitable for receiving their nests against a joist in a barn or a stable which we will have taken care to leave an access (opening) in the spring for the swallows to sneak inside.

It is also possible to make nests out of clay or plaster very easily for the window swallow.

How to install artificial nests?

These artificial constructions will allow easier installation and significant energy savings for these birds. Place the artificial nests 5 cm below the roof projection. If you are installing multiple nests, space them at least 20 cm apart.

If you install a receptacle droppings, this must be made of wood so as not to reflect the light, it will be placed at a minimum distance of 40 cm below the nest and placed at least 1 cm from the wall. The ideal size of the receptacle will be 30 cm long for 35 cm wide, prefer recovery boards to build it.


Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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