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You cant stop them from coming back no matter how hard you try so my advice is do nothing.

A couple of swallows manage to get into my property via the open back door every spring and proceed to batter themselves against the windows when they realise their is now a human (well almost) presence. I dont know how long these birds live but the last time that they could have nested inside would be 2003, perhaps its their offspring.

Editted, I think even Picard swallows have enough intelligence to find mud and water without help.

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If you read the PDF Chancer you will see that it's not that simple at all, they must have something to either build on or attach their nest to in the right place, and I should say I think it's great that someone is asking how to help them as opposed to the number of people, including masses of Brits, that only want to get rid of them - especially as they are in decline with a major factor being a reducing number of nest sites.

Chris

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Their nesting place in the exposed joists where my ground floor ceiling had collapsed are still available to them, I dont mind sharing with them for another couple of years but they object to sharing with me the proprietor (rather like a typical Picard squatter [;-)]) and then brain themselves trying to get out.

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'Ours' have a huge barn to occupy - as soon as we see them, we open the small window, and they get on with the building. I make sure they have all they need. I wasn't being sarcastic Chris and totally agree with you. Ideally though, if they have the right places and building materials, it's great to just let them get on with it.

Maybe a good time to remind all that destroying swallows' nests is illegal. If mess is a problem, try and design a removable  ledge to be fixed under the nests asap before their return. Merci pour les hirondelles.

Remins me must go up there and clean up all last year's mess - not the nicest of jobs. But having resident swallows and house martins is such a joy- and so much worth a bit of extra hard work. This year I will place some large sheets of cardboard from removal boxes- and will compost them when our friends leave. Will make a great accelerator, I/m sure. BTW I soak all corrugated cardboard we get and layer with other materials in compost bin.

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Thanks to every one for the help especially to chris who may remeber we spoke last year about the bats,I will look at building some myself as chris says as what better than sitting in the evening and watching the swallows feeding around our lake.We would never dream of getting rid of them as i think they are the most fantastic birds to sit and watch. 
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When we put the room above the grange it took away a few of our little resident's nesting places, but using offcuts of wood and scraps of plank and batten we made small shelves and attached them to the old beams. Last year the hirondelles returned as usual and happily used their "new accomodation".
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And as an update - could I really have seen the first swallow of the season yesterday near Orbec? I thought it might be a bit early (as well as freezing cold), however is it possible this was the pathfinder heading northwards as spring approaches?
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I am almost ashamed to say that I bought some swallow nests from the RSPB, and they will be on the lorry to France in two weeks. Why did I not build them? Well for a start I am totally and utterly useless at any form of DIY, and two, I just don't seem to be able to find the time. However, I am concerned because I know that swallows like flying through windows in to fairly dark barns to nest. We have a large farm barn (largely metal framed) that doesnt have any natural fixing points for either natural or man made nests. So, should I place a wooden beam with attached plank at right angles on to  a dark corner of the barn so that I can attach the nests on what would look like an eave? I think the swallows will nest in there because last year while we were renovating a building, swallows nested in the renovation and we waited until the birds left the nest before closing up the property. Afterwards the young birds would line up on the metal cross members inside the farm barn waiting for their parents to feed them.

On another note, despite asking the builders to leave nesting holes in the stone barn, they ended up filling in everything while creating the pierre apparent. To try and create a new nesting area for the dozen or so sparrows that nested in the walls, I have also bought some sparrow community nesting boxes from the RSPB in the hope that they will populate these. The ideal place from my perspective would not be on the original east facing wall where they would stick out like a sore thumb, but on a side wall which overlooks a small courtyard (northeast facing) which can be a bit busy in summer (not so much spring). Do you think the sparrows would be put off by the extra noise of being close to the kitchen etc?

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