Barn and cliff swallows, as well as other species, eat vast amounts of insects, making this world a more harmonious place for humans. While we enjoy birds' colorful antics at the bird feeders and in gardens, they become a nuisance when they build nests near your door. Besides singing at the first sign of dawn, their droppings and debris are unsightly. Don't disturb an inhabited nest of a native species because it's prohibited by both state and federal governments. The solution lies in preventing the feathered visitor from wanting to build its home near your door.
Bird's Eye Curb Appeal
You might wonder why birds sometimes choose to nest on a window sill, in a door wreath or above the door's ledge near humans. While the entryway is a high-traffic area, it is well protected from their natural predators, most often larger birds, who attack eggs and young. Humans are less risky and often find enjoyment in observing the nest and nestlings, or immature birds too young to leave the nest.
Most Common Visitors
Some species of birds are more likely to seek an entryway for nests than others. If you see mud nests shaped like cups in the eaves, you have barn swallows for residents, graceful blue and rust-colored birds who are masters at catching mosquitoes. They usually prefer higher ledges in barns and garages. Cliff swallows look similar, but build colonies of gourd-shaped nests with a round openings. Robins, doves, English sparrows, wrens and house finches are often found nesting in wreaths or decorations placed on doors. Their nests are made from twigs, leaves and grass shaped like a cup.
Birds of prey, including owls and hawks, are a threat to songbirds. They eat eggs and nestlings as well as adult birds. Because of this danger, smaller birds build nests where predators don't frequent, making entryways prime property. Try positioning a commercial, realistic owl decoy near the door. Make certain it's clearly visible to birds flying around the area. Find decoys in big-box stores or stores specializing in bird supplies.
Consider decorating your entryway using perpetual motion. Birds are frightened by movement from unfamiliar sources. Hang shiny decorations that rotate or flutter in the breeze. Also try suspending inexpensive, aluminum pie plates that will twist in the wind and reflect light.
If you prefer, approach the problem using sound. Birds communicate with their songs whether calling for a mate or signalling distress. Play commercial recordings of distressed calls near your door.
If a nest is occupied, it is illegal to destroy or move it. Instead, keep a watchful eye for activity before the nest is completed. When a bird brings a few twigs near your door, remove them. If the feathered homemaker is persistent, continue removing their nesting materials. Eventually they will seek another spot.
When you see a bird settled on her nest, sit back and enjoy watching the eggs hatch and nestlings develop. Don't worry about any mess for a couple of weeks. The mother will remove droppings and deposit them far from her babies to protect them. After that period, droppings will fall from the nest which is unsightly. Place newspapers under the affected area, which you can easily change. Remove the nest when fledglings take flight, between two and four weeks.