Volunteers Wanted – Swallow Conservation Project

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Bank Swallows – a species with intrinsic value that provides immense mosquito control (one individual eats up to 850 insects each day) – is facing the fastest population decline for a species in Canada with an estimated 98% population loss in Canada over a 40-year period. With only 2% of their population remaining in Canada, this species requires urgent conservation action.

Last year, the 2020 Columbia Valley Swallow Project (CVSP) engaged 69 volunteers and located 96 active Bank Swallow colonies (92 in the region between Canal Flats and Edgewater), indicating that this area provides critical breeding habitat for this species. Breeding habitat is a limiting factor for Bank Swallows because they require very specific breeding conditions such as low-elevation (<900m), large near-vertical banks, and with specific substrates that are easy to dig into but also maintain a hole/cavity. The 2020 CVSP also identified several Cliff Swallow colonies and small nesting sites for Barn Swallows including three large Barn Swallow colonies. Several of those nest sites are under threat due to nest removal and/or future decommissioning of buildings. Habitat conditions in the lower Columbia are important for the recovery of at-risk swallow species and need to be protected, restored in some cases, and enhanced in others – the UCSHEP aims to do this.

Volunteers are gaining considerable appreciation and knowledge of birds through citizen science and this project retains ecological experts, naturalists, and volunteers that are dedicated to pursuing long-term conservation goals related to biodiversity values.

If you are interested in becoming involved with this swallow conservation project or you simply want to know more, please contact Program Biologist Rachel Darvill at racheldarvill@gmail.com.

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