Can we save our swallows?

We've always had a successful colony of barn swallows for years. Last year, some magpies started predating their nests so fewer broods succeeded. This year, the swallows returned in April and the magpies were waiting for them. To date we've had no successful broods and many of the birds that returned have left for safer territory. All we hear is the remaining ones being constantly attacked, all day long. Any ideas to deter the magpies would be welcome.

  • Presumably the swallows are nesting in a building?
  • I don't think there is anything you can do, it is nature, magpies will predate, it is in their genes, they are a carrion bird, like crows, jackdaws and many others, and just like other birds, need to feed their young, as well as themselves.

    It is harsh, but that is nature, hunt and be hunted, and I know it isn't helpful to the poor swallows who are trying to raise their families also, let along what we see as caring humans.


    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • I think it'll depend on where the nesting is taking place. Probably nothing can be done, but assuming it's undercover, there may be options.
  • Thanks for the replies. Yes, the birds are nesting high up in open sided carports in a courtyard setting. The magpies just fly in and try, and in some cases succeed, getting to the nests. The swallows are giving it their all in defense, but the magpies are so persistent the little birds are giving up and moving on. I know it's nature, but just wish we could do something, as the swallows have been so much part of our summers here, it will be strange without them around. We're talking 15-20 breeding pairs down to 2-3!
  • In reply to pangur:

    I was hoping making it more enclosed would be an option, or at least more obstacles/barriers. If cars need access though, that would be challenging! 15-20 pairs is a lot of swallows. Not seen that sort of concentration of them for decades at breeding sites. There are farmers who shoot magpies to protect their free range poultry and chicks.
  • In reply to ItisaRobbo:

    There are 5 carports and some carry through to garages, so lots of options for swallows to nest. Up till last year we could have 3-4 active nests in our carport alone. Hope this explains the numbers a bit. At the end of a season,with the youngsters, the place used to be full of them. I used to move my car out because of the mess they made. I accept there could be a decline in numbers due to other factors, hence wanting to try and help those left.
  • It sounds like it is possible to close off some access, which might put off magpies entering, but not swallows. Swallows often nest in places with quite small access areas.
  • In reply to ItisaRobbo:

    Thank you. We'll look at this more closely this weekend and see what we can do.