Are swallows’ nests protected?

Are swallows’ nests protected?

The common swallow Hirundo rustica ), is a bird belonging to the order of Passeriformes that groups most of the species in the world, commonly called birds or songbirds due to the vocalizations they normally emit to communicate. They belong to the genus Hirundo, which includes animals, native to the old world, with the exception of the common swallow, which now has a cosmopolitan distribution, which inhabits America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania.




Among other characteristics, this bird has a peculiar way of building its nests, which we will talk about next. Keep reading this article and find out if swallow’s nests are protected.

Swallows overview

The common swallow is a small bird, reaching close to 20 cm and can have a wingspan of up to 35 cm. In relation to weight, it varies between 17 and 20 g. Colouring is a combination of bluish-black, brown and beige. Although males and females are similar, the former exhibit a more striking colouration as well as a long tail. The symmetry of the tail and wings was identified as a selection trait, so that females tend to choose males that have these structures with greater symmetry, leaving males with asymmetrical traits with less chance of mating. Although the latter, they can eventually associate with a reproductive couple, becoming auxiliary species in the elaboration and defence of the nest, as well as in incubation and creation, being able to finally reproduce with the female.

Both females and males participate in the incubation of eggs and the care of newborns, although the former offer greater dedication to the work of creation. These birds reproduce between May and August, with the spawning of between 2 and 7 eggs.

You are gregarious animals, it is common to see them in groups in buildings and electrical or telephone cables. They also nest in a community way, although with some distance from each other, because with regard to their nests they are quite territorial. They have fully migratory habits. European populations winter in the south or west of the continent, but most move to Africa. Those from Asiago to the south of the region, while those from North America go to the south of the continent.


What are swallow nests made of?

Swallows build very elaborate nests with a peculiar cup or half-cup shape [1]. They’re mostly made of mud, which both men and women carry on various trips to the place they’ve chosen to do this. Also, they use dry grass and even algae and long feathers to cover the clay base.

The swallows adapted the construction of their nests to structures built by humans. Previously they did this on cliffs and rocky sites, but now they use spaces like stables, bridges and even boat areas that give them rigid space to secure this structure. Water is an important resource, so they nest close to it.

As we mentioned, the barn swallow is territorial with its nest. However, in the presence of certain predators, such as birds of prey, it is submitted, despite having a quick and agile flight. However, these birds have developed in some regions a mutualistic relationship with ospreys, which feed exclusively on fish. The swallows then try to develop their nests under this raptor so that it protects the area from any other approaching birds. In turn, the former will warn with their vocalization if they detect a nearby danger.

Thus, swallows’ nests are generally protected, on the one hand, because they are built in places with difficult access to predators and, on the other hand, because of the protection mentioned in the previous lines, provided by fish eagles.

Do swallows return to the same nest?

It has been determined that swallows eventually return to the same nest, using it on at least two consecutive occasions [2]. But, given the quality of these structures, with some simple repairs, they can even be used for much longer.

The species tends to be monogamous, but it can also have copulations with other pairs. If a pair of swallows achieve reproductive success, they tend to stay together for several years, producing several generations of offspring. When migration returns, if any member of the established pair does not return, it is common for new pairs to form to continue reproduction.

As they are migratory species, some cannot return to their original habitat, often the nests, being stable constructions, can be used by other pairs of swallows and even by birds of other species.

Can swallow nests be removed?

Swallows’ nests are made with a lot of effort, as they move with their small beaks the mud needed to build the nest, in addition to the rest of the materials.


From the above, if the nests are located in areas that do not cause problems, we should not remove the swallows‘ nests in order to offer them the opportunity to reuse them in the next breeding seasons.

However, the faeces of these birds can contain salmonella, which would pose health problems, for example, for farm animals and for people. In this sense, if the nests were built in spaces that can be affected by the faeces of the swallows, they must be removed so that they can nest in other areas, thus avoiding the generation of diseases.

The common swallow is classified as least worry. However, its population trend is decreasing. There are two main causes for this fact:

  • Intense changes in agriculture: affect the availability of insects in these ecosystems, which are the specific foods of this bird. Thus, the use of insecticides, for example, drastically reduces their existence.
  • Birds are very susceptible to climate changeclimate variations affect both winter and breeding sites, negatively impacting the species.

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