Artificial Barn Swallow Nests




About: I made a beer mug with only a knife and a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

Passerine numbers are declining since many years. Habitat-loss & degradation, pollution, global change, loss of migration-stepstones, hunting etc. Our - human - fault, anyway. Again.

So it's no more than logic that it's also our responsability to take action where we can. Even the smallest act matters. Pissing on a raging forest fire is better than keeping it for yourself. I grew up in the Brussels area, I know what I'm talking about - 'Manneke Pis', you know.

Talking about Barn Swallows, in particular. These little long distance migrants are in heaven in diversified man-made habitats with a healthy mix of prairies, pastures, fields, hedges & bushes. And dirty farms, also. The dirtier the better.

Those flies, you know. Dark clouds of big tasty flies. And mosquitos.

That kind of farms is history now. When I was a kid all the farms I knew had at least several dozens of swallow nests. Now those farms are or gone or different. Closed gates, sterile environments.

Economic optimisation, you know. And tight hygiene. And no flies anymore around the dung heap. And so no more Barn swallows, also.

Not only food is important. Those tiny birds need special hardware to build their particularly shaped balcony nests. Good mud, and hay to arm it. Mud has become scarce, also. In this post apocalyptic agro-industrial era ground water levels are kept downward and every parcel of land gets money-ised. Even mud is rare these days.

And so sometimes, really sometimes, our feathered companions might need a little help to keep their heads above the water. I can't change the world, but I can make their life maybe a little bit easier by proposing them some ready built nests.

Step 1: Needs

You can make this as complicated as you will, but I decided to use cheap nice bamboo kitchen hardware. Bowls & cutting boards. Easy peasy.

Step 2: Cut 'em in Half, Almost

Choose your biggest saw or your heaviest axe and cut those bowls in half.

In fact, I realised that 'half' is just not wide enough, and so 3/4 is way much better.

You'll be using the 3/4 piece, of course.

And a grinder is much better, finally.

Step 3: Prepare the Boards

I guess you just can glue them together, but since you definitely don't want to fall those chicks 2m straight I suggest to play it safety first.

The artwork is optional. No proven scientific evidence on breeding success. Yet.

Step 4: Gettin' Wired


Step 5: Hang 'em

Hang those nests at about 20 or 30 cm from the ceiling of an open garage, barn or stable - or your living room, no judgements - and get ready for the arrival of those tiny travelers.


The simple things, you know.



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8 Discussions


1 year ago

Well done my friend. Easy to follow and very approachable.

I'm not sure about European (or African for that matter) swallows, but a lot of our swallows don't need that much to get started on their nests. They will use something that only pokes out a couple of millimeters from a wall to start a nest in. A friend of mine has a family ranch that gets swallows that make nests on the ~3 mm lip of a board that's right under his eves. So my point is that you probably could get by with a 6 mm wide strip of wood at the base of the cutting boards and call it good.

2 replies

Reply 1 year ago

Hey mate, you're on the spot again. Most of the time a simple nail in a support beam is enough to get them started. Problem is the mud, it's more & more scarce in our urban areas and without it they're nowhere. I've seen many nests uncompleted because of this - and also because the few mudpots dried way too fast during the building process. With this idea they just need a few minor adjustments to have a chance...


Reply 1 year ago

That makes sense. We, as a western society, are seeking to have less mud around.


1 year ago

I love it! What a wonderful way to support local bird habitat. Much appreciation.

1 reply

1 year ago

c'est possible de mettre, plus tard, une petite mise à jour (ou juste une photo), pour savoir si les hirondelles ont occupés les nids? :)
il faut que je fasse quelques nids aussi avant qu'elles arrivent chez moi, mais le plus difficile sera de les accrocher...

2 replies

Reply 1 year ago

Pas de soucis, je le ferai! Vous disposez d'un perfo? Simple cheville de 8mm et une vis de 6mm et vous seriez le roi ;)


Reply 1 year ago

le problème c'est plutôt d'atteindre la zone d'accrochage! je n'ai pas d'échelle assez longue...