Welcome swallow (Hiruno neoxena) in Australia

Welcome swallow

The welcome swallow is a native bird species to Australia.

Found across most of Australia, populations in eastern Australia migrate to northern Australian during winter, returning to their southern homes to breed in spring. Populations in Western Australia stay put.

The welcome swallow has a metallic blue back and head, rusty red/orange on the head, throat and upper chest and pale grey on the belly. It has a long forked tail.

  • Length: Up to 17 cm long
  • Wingspan: Up to 26cm
  • Weight: up to 20g

It is easily confused with the barn swallow which has a dark band under its orange neck and longer, more pointed tail.

Barn swallow

Their pest status comes from their nest building habits – they builder nests of mud and grass on the outside of buildings under eaves. The nests make a mess in themselves but there are also the droppings that are deposited on the ground underneath.

As they tend to persist as a flock, there will often be multiple nests at the one breeding site.

The challenge in controlling swallows is that as a native animal they cannot be harmed. This means once the nest has been built and eggs laid, you are stuck with the nest until the chicks leave the nest.

Their mud and grass nests will be attached to a rock face in their natural environment but the exterior walls of buildings make an ideal substitute in the urban environment.

Nests will take up to 2o days to build, but the birds will return to the same nest, year after year.

welcome swallow nest

Swallows are monogamous and will breed from late winter through to early Autumn.

Typically they have 2 broods per season, with up to 5 eggs in each brood.

Welcome swallows are exclusively insect feeders and catch their prey in flight.

Large flocks of swallows can exist where there is plentiful insects, as is often the case near freshwater bodies.

Welcome swallows are renowned for their acrobatic flight to catch insects on the wing and their ability to swoop close to water.

When no on the wing or back at the nest, they will often be seen resting on electrical or communication wires.

If swallows are in the area, it is important to keep an eye out for any potential nest building activity. As soon as nest building starts it is important to hose down any part built nests, making sure that all the mud is removed, otherwise they are more likely to rebuild.

However, once swallows have identified a potential nesting site, they can be quite persistent in their desire to build a nest. As such using a professional pest manager to exclude the birds from the area becomes the only option.

Other types of bird pests.

Management Notes:

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