It is the end of summer and as previously hoped, our Barn Swallow fledglings have moved on to warmer climates. While we surely miss watching the young birds learn to fly, I hope that they will not return next year to nest at Stratford Hall.
While the birds were in residence, it gave us the opportunity to conduct further research on how to properly decontaminate areas that are highly soiled with bird feces. Bird and bat droppings contain such disease organisms such as Cryptococcosis, Histoplasmosis, and Psittacosis. These organisms can cause potential respiratory problems in humans, so careful clean-up and precautionary measures must be taken when working with bird and bat feces. We will be wearing protective clothing and breathing apparatuses while working in the Outbuildings that the Barn Swallows chose as nesting areas on the estate. Our hope, along with restoring the areas to their prior cleanliness, is also to prevent future nesting to take place.
As a historic site opened to the public, we cannot use the common answers of installing plastic eaves and wire mesh to buildings to prevent future nesting. Thus, creative avenues of cleaning with non-toxic chemicals, using plastic owls and snakes as scare tactics, and staff vigilance in preventing re-nesting will hopefully do the trick! So please remember as you visit Stratford that we are in the process of cleaning and re-housing objects to make the visitor experience more enjoyable.