Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blogiversary post: How to get rid of Barn Swallows.

A new banner.

Today is the first anniversary of the creation of Rock Paper Lizard. I don’t recall how I came up with that name, but likely it was late at night. Were I to start a new blog, I would consider naming it How to Get Rid of Barn Swallows. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this blog receives a lot of hits from people wanting to know how to get rid of various plants and animals, and of these biota-removal-related queries, the most frequent has been, “How to get rid of barn swallows.” I noticed this trend near the end of June, and at that time began recording the names of places from which the queries had been sent. By August 25 there had been 101 Barn Swallow eradication queries, pretty-much evenly spaced over the previous 56 days.

This widespread loathing of Hirundo rustica may seem discouraging to those of us who are rather fond of the species, but I see two good things in it. One is that there still are a lot of Barn Swallows around for people to want to get rid of, despite reports that in some parts of the world they are in decline.

The second good thing is that people have made the effort to find out what they are, in order to ask how to make them go away. Learning the name of something is the first step in getting to know it, and knowing leads to understanding, and understanding leads to—ultimately--loving.

And so, I dedicate the entire first year of Rock Paper Lizard to unknown people in the places below, people who, whether they know it or not, have taken the first steps toward loving Barn Swallows. Through the magic of Google Earth I have soared above your towns, cities, villages and cross-roads, and sent you my fondest wishes (and playfully pooped on your verandas), and will continue to do so in the year ahead. Thank you.

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Ettrick, Wisconsin
Regina, Saskatchewan
Little Rock, Arkansas
Syracuse, New York
Utica, New York
Surrey, British Columbia
Donnybrook, North Dakota
Bismarck, North Dakota
Minot, North Dakota
Perham, Minnesota
Lubbock, Texas
Miller, Missouri
Indianapolis, Indiana
San Angelo, Texas
Sarasota, Florida
White, Georgia
Marion, Iowa
Minneapolis, Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota
Dallas, Texas
Petawawa, Ontario
New Braunfels, Texas
Topeka, Kansas
Madison, Wisconsin
Streator, Illinois
Fort Dodge, Iowa
Floyd, Virginia
Linwood, Kansas
Beaumont, Texas
Syracuse, New York (again)
Atlanta, Georgia
Huntington, New York
Dallas, Texas (again)
Perryton, Texas
Clearwater, Kansas
Worcester, Massachusetts
Appleton, Wisconsin
Mansfield, Texas
St. Paul, Minnesota (again)
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Rock Island, Illinois
Buffalo, New York
Marinette, Wisconsin
Waynesboro, Virginia
Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Elmer, New Jersey
Miller City, Ohio
Rapid City, South Dakota
Brandon, Manitoba
Monroe, Louisiana
Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario
Manchester, Georgia
Hagerstown, Maryland
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Denver, Colorado
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Eaton, Colorado
Salt Lake City, Utah
Hamilton, Ontario
Lubbock, Texas (again)
Fargo, North Dakota
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Austin, Texas
Gainesville, Virginia
Omaha, Nebraska
Chesnee, South Carolina
Cambria, Wisconsin
Indianapolis, Indiana
Suffolk, Virginia
West Monroe, Louisiana
Wilson, Texas
Toledo, Ohio
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fargo, North Dakota (again)
College Station, Texas
Metropolis, Illinois
Barrie, Ontario
Bremen Indiana
Tulsa, Oklahoma (again)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Lexington, Kentucky
Granite City, Illinois
Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Boulder, Colorado
Winter Park, Florida
Indianapolis, Indiana (again)
Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
Littleton, Colorado
Staten Island, New York
Cincinnati, Ohio
Overland Park, Kansas
Purmela, Texas
Los Angeles, California
Calgary, Alberta
Wynantskill, New York
Minneapolis, Minnesota (again)
Edmonton, Alberta
Denver , Colorado (again)
Fosston, Minnesota

And today, for the second time, Madison, Wisconsin. Welcome, friend, to the club.


swamp4me said...

Happy anniversary! I don't recall how I came to learn of your blog, but I'm glad I did. At least you know I didn't come here seeking to learn how to kill something :) and I love barn swallows.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the first year! I'd say it gets easier, but it doesn't necessarily. But it remains fun.

Gee, if someone wants to get rid of their barn swallows, I'd be happy to take them!

Hugh said...

Thank you Swampy. I'm very happy to have met you and your part of the world.

Thanks Wren. Yes, it's fun, informative, and always surprising.

Hooray for Barn Swallows!

kompoStella said...

first things first: happy anniversary and thank you for blogging! as you might have discovered from your close watch over your readers, i'm a fan ;-)

and then, the barn swallows... i simply don't get this. what is the reason for wanting to get rid of them? every year, at our summer house in the woods, my family rejoice to the point of silly-hippie-sentimentality when the swallows return. for us they signify the wondrous turn of seasons and i guess we feel honoured that they return to our roof to nest. it leaves me baffled.

Hugh said...


Thank you for reading!

As for the swallows, I think it comes down to two things: poop and swoop. The nests are messy, and the parents sometimes swoop at you or your pets if you get too close (but they never hit you; it would probably kill them if they did). I think people who are largely insulated from nature are alarmed by these things, which override the beauty they may otherwise have seen and heard.

In parts of Asia, people leave an upper window open to encourage swallows to nest inside their homes. They know what matters and what doesn't.

Tully said...

Happy anniversary! I came here not because I wanted to get rid of barn swallows, but because I am a huge fan of them and was looking for information about their longevity. Then I saw your entry on the sea slug and knew I had to stay. It was inevitable that yours would become one of my favorite blogs.

Oh, and anyone who doesn't want their barn swallows can send them my way, too!

Hugh said...

Thanks, Tully.

Soon the Barn Swallows will be leaving us, heading south. They travel farther than some of the other swallows, and therefore probably face more hazards. That they struggle so far into the unknown and back again every year is part of what makes them wonderful, and why you should be proud to have them poop in your gazebo. My guess is that one who lives to five years is an old one, but I really don't know.

pookie said...

And I am mourning the loss of my two Welcome Swallows nests. I returned to Godzone last week to find that someone knocked them down. I suspect it was the too practical farmer neighbour (<= Kiwi spelling!) who dropped off some firewood. I haven't seen him to ask him yet, but puhleeeze, don't do me any further favours, Mr Farmer Dude. Last spring I had 5 nestlings make it into the wider world, and was so very much looking forward to their return, envisioning a huge swallow colony in my carport over time. Now I just hope that the parents return and build another nest. It's spring here.