Friday, August 22, 2014

What Parents (of School Children) Should Know About Cliff Swallows

Typical Cliff Swallow Nests
    First Posted April 2013
Over the years, Cliff Swallows have traditionally nested at Jenny Lind Elementary School and Toyon Middle School. The Cliff Swallow seasonal migration pattern is outlined below.

Cliff swallows spend the winter months in South America. In late winter and early spring, they begin a northward migration through Central America and Mexico. Arrival dates can vary greatly because of weather conditions. 

The first migrants usually appear in southern California by late February or early March. Two or three weeks later cliff swallows begin arriving in northern California.

Cliff swallows migrate during the day and catch flying insects en route. Swallows will not penetrate regions unless flying insects are available for food, which usually occurs after a few days of relatively warm weather (70°F or more).

What Parents (of School Children)
 Should Know About Cliff Swallows

According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources website:
Swallows, particularly cliff swallows, Hirundo pyrrhonota, often live in close proximity to people. While enjoyable to watch, cliff swallows nesting in colonies on buildings and other structures can become a nuisance. Their droppings can foul machinery, create aesthetic problems, and cause potential health hazards by contaminating foodstuffs. Their mud nests eventually fall to the ground and can cause similar problems. In addition, swallow nests frequently contain mites and insects such as swallow bugs (Oeciacus vicarius); swallow bugs are related to bed bugs and will bite humans, although humans are not their usual host.

According to the website: United Wildlife Control
Mud, cliff and barn swallows do carry diseases: including histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, cryptococcus, and toxoplasmosis. These swallow illnesses are spread by contact with swallow poop, nest materials and dead swallows.

Histoplasmosis is a fungus disease contracted through airborne spores in swallow droppings. If swallows have been on your roof for a while, these spores can even infect the soil you garden in down below. Its symptoms may be anything from a mild influenza to blood abnormalities and fever, or even death. An eye condition has been linked to histoplasmosis and it can lead to blindness in those who contract it.

Toxoplasmosis is an infection that invades human tissue and can severely damage the central nervous system, especially in babies. Pregnant women are in extreme danger if infected with toxoplasmosis.

Swallows carry the bacteria salmonella. People who pick up salmonella bacteria can become seriously ill with diarrhea, vomiting, fever and chills. Salmonella can also affect the blood. Swallow salmonella can be spread through swallow fecal matter.

Encephalitis can lead to fever, headache, vomiting and eventually coma, seizures and paralysis. Encephalitis is brain inflammation caused by a virus.

Cryptococcosis, one of the commonly carried swallow diseases, infects the lungs of humans. It is transmitted by inhaling the yeast-like cells of the organism. Cryptococcosis can also cause acne-like ulcers on the skin.

Resources and Management Options

Cliff Swallow Management—UC Davis
Health and Safety Hazard
Nesting Period

Health Hazard

Netting Used

Management Ideas

Cliff Swallow
Diseases (types)

Sierra, Foothill Cliff Swallows

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