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An Integrated Program to Control the Welcome Swallow in Mine Buildings

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Published: April 05Project Number: C11046

Get ReportAuthor: Brian Stone, David Goldney | University of Sydney - Orange

The Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) poses a major Occupational Health and Safety concern in the maintenance workshops of a number of Coal Mines in the Hunter Valley, NSW, as it can roost in large numbers in large workshop buildings. To date a variety of ad hoc methods have been employed in an attempt to control this species in workshops but with limited success.

The following aims and objectives of the program are addressed in the report.
  • Review the literature of the ecology of the Welcome Swallow and the current control methods used when targeting similar pest species in Australia and overseas;
  • Better understand the ecology of the species in the Hunter Valley through observation and experiment that complements the current knowledge of this species, with a view to identifying possible weak links in its ecology that potentially could be used to control swallow numbers;
  • Assess experimentally and through reviewing the literature the likely management strategies for the control and/or exclusion of Welcome Swallow from mine buildings;
  • Assess the risk to human health of Welcome Swallow and their excrement in confined mine buildings where they roost; and
  • Provide recommendations for the control of swallows in mine buildings.
The primary recommendations to control the numbers of roosting Welcome Swallows have been listed in the order we believe to be most effective. We also believe that these methods should be used in concert. These are:
  • Closing Workshop Doors and Other Openings
  • Informed Design of New Workshop Buildings
  • Retrofitting Buildings
  • Building Maintenance
This second group of recommendations include control methods that, have a low probability of success, and when used on their own are not likely to be successful. However, they are given because further research may show them to be useful under some circumstances or strictly controlled conditions when long term control is not expected. These are:
  • Scaring - Broadcast of Swallow Distress Calls and Shotgun/Rifle Noises
  • Culling - by Rat shot/Rifle
  • Construction of Alternative Roosts
  • Health Risk Assessment, Cleaning and Disinfection


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