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Is there a type of vent that can be fitted into our garage roof to give swallows access? We've had to leave the door or window open for each or the last 3 summers?

Sent in by Janet Howell, Staffordshire

Swallows choose to nest inside buildings that have open access so barns, stables, sheds, car ports and even porches all provide suitable protection for their fragile mud nests. 

As long as the swallow can get in and out throughout its stay in the UK, any such structure close to open ground where they can feed is a potential nesting site. 

Swallows make their epic journeys back into the UK at the start of the year with the trailblazers making our shores throughout March. They will often head straight back to their natal areas and seek out nesting sites from previous years. 

In order to get in and out of a building swallows need a gap of at least the size of a standard housebrick. If you would rather not leave a door or window open through the summer but could create such a gap then the swallow may be able to complete another year of nesting inside your garage. Ideally try to create the gap as close to previous entrances as possible.

A recent suggestion that a supporter kindly shared with us is to create an externally mounted swallow nesting structure. A simple rectangular box about the size of a standard tawny owl nestbox but with an open base and nothing inside but a shelf, mounted on the side of a barn or garage for example close to the areas where swallows have nested previously can provide them with an alternative weather proof structure if they cannot be permitted access into buildings.

One thing to be aware of is that once a swallow has arrived and starts nest building, they cannot be excluded from the site whilst they have an active nest. The swallow and it’s nest, eggs and chicks are afforded full legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 throughout the period when that nest is active.

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