Don’t Mess with Swallow’s Nests

Swallows and other populations of birds that catch insects while flying are on the decline. But you can help protect these vulnerable species.

Bank swallows, which have been reduced to 2% of their population in Canada in a recent 40 year period, are extremely vulnerable and require immediate conservation action.

Barn Swallows have similarly faced sharp declines with around 25% of their population remaining in Canada compared to what it was in Canada about 40 years ago.  Barn Swallow nests may appear messy to some people, but the value of having insectivores around that eat up to 850 insects a day (think mosquitos in July!) is of inestimable benefit in the Columbia Valley in the spring and summer.

Swallows, tiny aerial acrobats that arrive in the Columbia Valley just as the bugs come out and migrate in early fall are protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act. 

Under this act, nests of migratory birds are protected all year. A nest is considered as ‘active’ as soon as it begins being built.  Some people might not be aware that It is actually illegal to damage, destroy or remove a non-active nest without a permit or an authorization as well.  It is your responsibility to assess your legal obligations and evaluate the risks of harming migratory birds or their nests. If convicted of violating this Act, penalties might include jail time and significant financial fines. Owing to their threatened status, both Bank and Barn Swallows, their nests, eggs and young, are also protected under the Species at Rick Act.  

Wildsight Golden is working with volunteers and contractors to protect and enhance habitat for these beautiful, beneficial birds in our valley. If you want to help, please contact the Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement project at for more information.

Photo credit: Rachel Darvill