Swallows are birds that typically migrate to the United States from South America in late April or early May. These small, insect-eating birds have a long history of living near humans, and they can be found nesting under roofs, eaves, bridges and even inside buildings! If you want these beautiful creatures around your yard all year round, follow these expert tips for attracting them.
Table of Contents
- 1 Range
- 2 Common Swallows in North America
- 3 How to Attract Swallows to your Yard
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
In the past two decades, they have become more common throughout the eastern and Midwestern parts of the U.S., including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North, and South Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Minnesota. In Canada, they are now becoming scarce.
Common Swallows in North America
- Tree swallow
- Cliff swallow
- Violet-green swallow
- Bank swallow
- Barn swallows
- Mangrove swallow
- Pacific swallow
- Wire-tailed swallow
- Northern Rough-winged Swallow
How to Attract Swallows to your Yard
The best way to get them to your yard is to plant trees they enjoy, such as catalpa, sycamore, tulip, poplar, yellowwood, ficus, oak, alder, white-barked tamarisk tree or hickory. This will help to give them something to perch on when they are out, and about, but also will provide them with a tree that they can easily climb around.
When you’re trying to attract swallows to your yard, another useful trick is to get them interested in your yard is by planting a cluster of red and white flowers in your garden.
Red roses, hydrangeas, tulips, and lilies can all be used to create a striking display in your garden that the birds will love. They are also attracted to Joe Pye weed, Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod, boneset, purple loosestrife, zinnias, dandelions, bluebells, Mexican primrose, lavender aster, Russian sage and creeping phlox.
Make them Feel Safe
Another great way to entice them is to create areas that will make them feel safe.
- Bird feeders should be placed at least six feet off the ground, and should include a wide variety of insects and berry blends such as the Wild Delight Bugs N’ Berries.
- Offer mealworms on a platform tray.
- Offer insect suet with a suet feeder.
- Install a birdhouse or nest box.
- Swallows like it when there is plenty of trees in your yard, so they can nest in them or just hang out on branches.
- Plant lots of flowers because birds love colorful blooms for eating nectar.
- Make sure that your grass is mowed, bushes are trimmed.
- Make sure bird baths are in good shape, and add fresh water daily.
- Make sure bird feeders are clean and in good condition.
Swallows have a broad range of diet, although it is difficult to determine their preferred foods from the surrounding vegetation. It appears that they will feed on almost all food sources available on the ground, including insects, pollen, berries many kinds of seeds, nuts, fruit, and nectar.
They tend to stay close to the ground during migration. But in the southern parts of its range they frequently forage in open fields, marshes, swamps, or lowlands, feeding on a variety of small seeds and insects on the ground.
There are many ways to attract Swallows, and one of the most popular is with a bird bath.
Step 1: Place your birdbath near a fence or trellis, so they can have an easy escape route from predators.
Step 2: Fill your bird bath with fresh water twice daily for maximum enjoyment of your new visitors.
Step 3: Install feeders in the vicinity of your bird bath so that these birds can eat while they are visiting you.
Step 4: Make sure the bird bath has shallow water and is filled with rocks.
I also recommend purchasing a bird house that will provide them with shelter from the sun but also provide them with a bit of protection from predators. This will give them the chance to eat, drink, and bathe while being safe and comfortable away from their predators.
Once you have planted your shade trees and bird houses, you should start to watch where your swallows daily. Don’t worry if they seem to hang around in your yard a lot, it’s just that nature takes its course.
Most swallows will go to nearby bushes but don’t rule it out. As soon as the sun goes down, they will probably start to head for the bushes in your yard as well.
Nesting begins when the birds arrive at their destination around late April or early May. The males will first find a good spot for building a nest and claim it as theirs by swooping down on other males that try to build nests nearby, while the females search for the perfect place for her eggs- typically in holes of trees or eaves of buildings.
Swallows prefer to nest in man-made structures such as barns or sheds. They will also often take over an old Robin’s nest that has been abandoned, and can even make use of birdhouses for nesting.
Swallows are a type of bird that build their nests from mud, grass and twigs. They typically use two main materials to make the nest: mud and straw. The female swallow builds the nest on top of a tree branch or in an old building using straw as her material.
She will take dry blades of grass and twist them together until they form long threads, which she then weaves into webs around branches to secure it all together. Mud is used for stability and added support.
Frequently Asked Questions
What month do Swallows lay their eggs?
In some regions of the world, swallows return in the spring to lay their eggs. For example, many Northern Hemisphere countries will see birds returning as early as March or April. This is because they want to get a head start on raising their young before winter hits.
Which direction should a bird house face?
If you want to attract the most swallows, then your entrance hole should be away from direct winds and be facing northeast. This way, the morning sun will shine into the house before any other house in your area.
How high off the ground should a bird house be?
A good rule of thumb is to build your swallow bird house approximately 8-12 feet off the ground. This is high enough to keep predators from reaching it but low enough that humans can still reach it with ease.
Do Swallows return to the same place every year?
Yes, every year when winter is over, swallows actually return to the same spot where they nested last year because it provides them with everything they need: food, shelter, and safety.
Can Swallows eat bird seed?
Swallows mostly feed on insects during the summer months, but when food becomes scarce or difficult to find in winter, they will resort to eating seeds and berries as well.
Why do Barn Swallows dive at you?
Barn swallows are known for their habit of dive-bombing people, especially those who have made a nest on the barn. This is not an attack as they do not actually hit humans with their wings; rather, it is to scare them away from their nests.