Birding/barn swallow


We have had a barn swallow nest under our tall and sheltered front porch for 7 years.  The year before last we noticed the babies were not as healthy.  Last summer the barn swallow couple tried and tried to have babies (female sitting in there for days) but there was no trace of babies or egg shells.  We can observe the nest through large windows, but cannot see inside. I read about mites, etc., and was going to take the nest down this weekend so the swallows could build a clean, mite-free nest.  I usually don't see the swallows until next month, but just now observed the male checking out the nest.

My question is:  should we tear down the nest?  We are in Albuquerque, New Mexico--- as far as I recall, there is plenty of time before they would need to lay eggs.

Thanks for your help!  Lisa Cawthon

Several things here. First, it is illegal to remove a nest (or young or feathers or anything else) as these birds, like almost all others, are protected by federal law. And since the birds are already checking the nest out, it is definitely not a good idea. Disturbance might make them go elsewhere. Second, there are all kinds of reasons why nesting was not successful last year - not enough food, too cold or warm, too much competition, predation, and so on. Mites are not the likely problem. Finally, the birds are ready to court, mate, and nest as soon as they arrive. As is usually the case, nature knows best so  let it take its course and enjoy the process.


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Roger Lederer


Any and all about WILD birds - the science of ornithology. Information about birdwatching, ecology, conservation, migration, behavior, banding, rehabilitation, feeding, songs, binoculars, identification, and careers in ornithology. No questions about pet or caged birds, please.


Have a PhD and over forty years as a professional ornithologist - research, teaching, author, speaker, webmaster of . Have written thirty scientific papers, three bird field guides, a textbook in ecology four other bird books, the latest being "Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs". Have traveled to 100 countries watching birds and have spoken to hundreds of groups about birds.

PhD in Zoology/Ornithology; Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences; former Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico

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