Later, when the chicks are about to fledge whenever we walk by or go into the barn, we trigger loud alarm calls and get buzzed. I've felt a whoosh of air many a time as a swallow swoops by my ear.
Having the swallows in residence means we have a flock of summer pets with entertainment value. We are fond of them, but it seems there are people who hate these birds. A blogger south of the border, who describes himself as a country boy (not a cowboy or a farmer or a hayseed or a redneck, though he admits to being bit of all those), hates barn swallows. At the bottom of his list of spring things to do, there is this:
Prepare for annual battle with barn swallows by stocking up on 12-gauge shells (I've tried scarecrows, plastic snakes, sonic barriers, and cussing... and I'm finished screwing around with these birds, it is time for them to die).Yes, it's true that these birds do make a mess in the barn with their droppings, but shooting them????
Fortunately, our ride-on lawn mower has a sun-shade which keeps the droppings off the seat. Late in the summer when the birds are gone, we clean the floor with a power washer.
Aside from that, the swallows aren't a big problem. They're just fellow residents of our little eco-system, a 10-acre spot with lots of food and water, and we're happy to share. They are voracious insectivores, swooping and diving around the lawn mower as it scares up the insects. Apparently, barn swallows are quite effective at reducing insect pest populations - definitely my kind of bird.
(For more information about barn swallows, see this site by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.)