Every spring, barn and cliff swallows arrive to nest in the Monterey Bay area. Their arrival marks the end of a very long journey, from as far away as South America. Their travels south of the border are increasingly hazardous, as more and more of their habitat disappears to development.
Swallows are known as harbingers of spring and as symbols of good luck. They often nest in residential or urban areas. It is not uncommon to see swallow nests under bridges, over passes and under the eaves of homes.
Even in Santa Cruz, this habit can bring them trouble. For many residents, a swallow nesting under the overhang of their porch just simply means having to clean up messy bird droppings.
Although this mess may be a reality, swallows are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. According to this federal law it is unlawful for any person to “take” any migratory bird, including its eggs, nests, or any part thereof. Violating this law is punishable by fines of up to $15,000 and up to six months in jail.
- If you are unhappy with a pair of swallows that have built a nest on your property, but have not yet laid eggs, try putting up a metallic helium balloon on a long string in the area in which they are nesting. This should encourage the pair to nest elsewhere.
- To discourage swallows from nesting on their property, put chicken wire up around overhangs to prevent them from getting under eaves. Please do not use sticky, glue like substances sold for keeping pigeons away. The tiny wings of swallows easily become engulfed in this glue, preventing them from flying and eventually leading to their death. *Please remember that if a nesting pair has already laid their eggs, you must leave them alone.
For more information call Native Animal Rescue at (831) 462-0726.