What has killed these 18 swallows?

Please read this and see if you have any knowledge or ideas as to what is killing these swallows.  I received this from a reader –


What is killing our swallows?
I work on a farm looking after horses.

Its an ideal nesting place for swallows and every year dozens of pairs raise several broods with no problem. This year several early broods were successfully raised,

but gradually I realised we were losing adult birds. I kept finding the wing and tail feathers where the victims were eaten usually under the nest.

The attacks are always at night which rules out squirrels or other birds.

The adult birds are taken in preference to the nestlings which are often killed and left on the floor.

Twice the nests have been knocked down by the predator, but not always which rules out a cat and also some are very high and imposible for a cat to reach.

A weasel would also have a problem accessing some of the nests and why would it bother with an abundance of easier prey around the farm? We have now lost about 18 adult birds and all their young. at this rate our entire population will be wiped out .

Can anyone help us to save the remaining swallows


This is my reply.  I am still trying to find our more information

This is very strange. I haven’t heard of anything like this. I have rung an elderly Yorkshire Gent about this who is really knowledgeable about birds but it has puzzled him.  He said if you were finding wing and tail feathers it could be a sparrowhawk, but as the nests have been knocked down it could NOT be a sparrowhawk.

We have ruled out an owl doing it as well as it would not knock a nest down.

We both thought that it could have been a cat but you say the nest is too high.

If the attacks are at night that does rule out squirrels

Adult birds are taken in preference to nestlings which are are often killed and left on the floor – interesting. So whatever kills them must be able to get into the nest? Is this right?

And the dead swallow is eaten – usually under the nest. – So it must be eaten on the floor?

that leave the possibility of a weasel. But I wonder if it is a cat?

It’s horrifying that you have now lost about 18 adult birds and all their young.

I am sending a copy of your letter to my Yorkshire Gent Friend and am also going to forward it to a charity called Song Bird Survival. they will have a lot of knowledge about birds of prey, cats etc.  I’m also going to look into it more

Can I ask you where you live in England?

Sorry I can’t be of more help at the moment . Could you put a videocam pointing to the nests? I suppose that is a silly thing to ask. Will be in touch. 
 Trisha from Bird Table News


UPDATE –  The conclusion we came to is that it is rats that are getting the swallows.


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