In our previous post, we discussed the barn swallow, also sometimes referred to as the mud swallow. We discuss their habitat, behavior, appearance, and, perhaps most significantly, how to effectively remove and exclude them. As a reminder, we here at Wildlife Removal Service provide pest and animal control for areas that include San Diego, Orange County, and Temecula. If you are looking for Southern California bird control because you have a pigeon or swallow problem, we can absolutely help with our humane and effective methods. Among these methods are shock tracks, bird spikes, bird netting, bird wire, and, if the situation merits it, lethal bird control.

While the final method listed is not our priority, it is an option we provide because having swallows or other birds roosting on your property or even in your home is a situation which must be resolved as quickly as possible. Why? It’s a health and safety issue, primarily. But it also can negatively impact your property value while you are able to prevent unnecessary damage before that happens. We have proven bird removal and control strategies we can implement at an affordable price. We will analyze your specific situation and consult you on which control technique we recommend, be it habitat modification, bird exclusion with netting, or perhaps even visual and ultrasonic scare devices.

Suffice it to say, we know what we are doing when it comes to protecting your home from swallows and other birds. Now that we’ve successfully established that fact, let’s talk about cliff swallows in a more general sense!

Cliff Swallow Identification

Cliff swallows are known for their short and square-tipped tails, their wide wings (when compared with barn swallows), and their metallic blue feathers mixed with their pale breast and underbelly.

Cliff Swallows And Their Diet

Cliff swallows, like all swallows, are insectivores, and as such are mid-air consumers of a range of winged insects. Their ability to swerve, dive, and dip with outstanding agility coupled with their wid-gaped bills makes them ideal aerial hunters. Cliff swallows like setting up their proverbial shop in Southern California for a variety of reasons to be sure, with one of them certainly being the fact that there is little rainfall in this region. Because swallows consume the vast majority of their diet via the air, they are unable to catch insects when it’s raining. These extended periods of rainfall make it challenging for adult swallows to locate food sources. This can even cause some young or weaker birds to die if the rains last long enough.


Cliff swallows can be found throughout the entirety of California, excluding the southeastern region and high-mountain regions of the state. There are four basic conditions that merit a viable cliff swallow colony. An eco-candidate must include an open habitat for foraging, a vertical surface beneath an overhang for attaching the nest, a local supply of appropriate mud for nest building, and fresh water for drinking to be nearby.

Prior to the last few thousand years or so, cliff swallows made their homes on cliffs and along canyon walls. In more recent times, relatively speaking, these songbirds adapted to the newfound man-made structures, among which are overpasses, bridges, and buildings. As such, they were able to spread much more easily, not being confined to only cliffs and canyons. Thus their population growth has coincided with their regional expansion given the novel surplus of suitable nesting sites.

In terms of migration, cliff swallows winter in South America then fly north through Central America. By February or March, you’ll see the first migrants appear in local areas such as San Diego, Orange County, and Temecula.


There exists something of a homing tendency in cliff swallows, as they are known to return to previously-used colony sites. While not all of these swallows will return to their former colony, many will use nests that had been used by other swallows during previous seasons. Because the nests are remarkably durable, this is possible. The nests can be distinguished by their gourd-like shape and their mud pellet, sand, silt, and clay ingredients, as it were. Like their barn swallow cousins, both sexes of cliff swallows help build the nest. It’s a somewhat arduous process, as they must wait for each layer of mud to dry and harden. It can take up to two weeks for the construction to be completed.

Swallow Control And Exclusion

Bird exclusion is characterized by being a control method that involves denying access to a nest site area. Among the many options for bird control, exclusion represents a more long-term solution. Here in California, one is not required to administer this type of control if and only if it is done prior to the birds arriving, while the birds are building nests but there are no eggs or hatchlings, or during the winter once the birds have migrated.

If you are interested in learning more about our bird control solutions here at Wildlife Removal Services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us as soon as you can. You may have already noticed some of the first arrivers looking for places to call home for the season, so it’s vital you call us so we can perform legal swallow exclusion techniques before the songbirds mate and lay their eggs.  

If you’d like more information about cliff swallows, their legal status, and otherwise, check out our resource dedicated to Cliff Swallow Biology!