When I took this job as property manager for an assisted living center, I was told that I’d probably have to deal with “a little” swallow problem. Yeah, right. I guess it was a little problem with swallows a few years ago, but none of my predecessors did anything about it, so now I’m stuck with a huge amount of barn swallows dipping and swooping. At least they keep the mosquito population down, but I don’t feel as if it’s worth it.
Our property is close to a city park, and this time of year there’s a big mud hole in one portion of the park. The swallows carry the mud, beak-full by beak-full, and use the mud pellets to build their nests right under the eaves and up against the stucco. Of course, that means I’m constantly cleaning up mud pellets off of the sides of the buildings and off the sidewalks. I try to catch every nest, and my crew is out there nearly every day power-washing the mud pellets off of walls instead of taking care of other maintenance jobs.
I have a ton of phone calls from some of the nature-loving residents who are mad that we are trying to keep the swallows from building there, and other residents who are mad that we haven’t been successful at getting rid of the swallow problem entirely. While I sympathize with the residents who enjoy watching the birds flying around outside their window, I have to think of their health and safety first.
The mud and swallow droppings that accumulate on sidewalks and doorsteps are a serious hazard. Residents, employees and guests can easily slip and fall. The risk of falling is bad, but more people complain of swallow droppings staining their cars, dropping on their heads or shirts. An unexpected “swallow bomb” is no fun when it’s in your hair, on the side of your face, or staining your shirt.
Once baby birds have hatched, the swallow problem gets even worse. Not only do you have more birds staining the sides of the building, walkways and doorways, but the adult swallows get aggressive. In an effort to protect their nests, they dive and attack anyone who walks nearby. We had one resident who was actually hit in the head by a swallow, lost his balance and was injured.
And then, there are the bugs. Little swallow bugs that bite like fleas. They get inside the buildings, hide behind wall art, in beds, in outlets. Even the nature-loving residents, who root for the swallows to finish building their nests before my power-washers hit them, are much less enthusiastic when confronted with bugs in their beds. We’re struggling with insect extermination as well as trying to remove the swallow problem.
Of course, as swallows are federally protected, I have to be very careful we’re not breaking any laws in our seemingly fruitless war against the birds. At certain times of the year, the problem with swallows takes priority over everything else, and the other demands of my job are left incomplete. It has become too costly in time, manpower and funds to handle this problem alone. I have finally decided it is so much more worth it to get a professional wildlife removal service out here to take care of the problem, so I can get on with the business of managing this property correctly.