Wildsight Golden Swallow Project Achievements in 2022

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Photo: Rachel Darvill

The Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project’s (UCSHEP) monitoring and data collection efforts have wrapped up for 2022!

The project wants to thank all the volunteers who helped make this project so successful for 2022.

This is a five-year project (2021-2026), and to date, five large Swallow Condos for barn swallows have been erected and one of those already produced four barn swallow chicks in August 2022. Working with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service and BC Parks, Rachel and her team installed four Motus Wildlife Tracking Stations in the region and subsequently tagged fifty Bank Swallows at two colonies near Invermere in June 2022. This will provide unprecedented information on post-breeding habitat and the Bank Swallow migration route.

The UCSHEP also helped restore Bank Swallow colony habitat within Windermere Lake Provincial Park, removed vegetation blocking Bank Swallow flightpaths at a Blaeberry colony, assisted with a barn roof replacement that provides significant Barn Swallow habitat in Invermere, installed 63 nest cups on pre-existing buildings and artificial nesting structures (this gives swallows a head start on nest building). On top of that the project has several additional enhancement projects underway!

Seventy volunteers were engaged for swallow monitoring this spring and summer. There were numerous training sessions and private landowner visits regarding co-existence and potential nesting site enhancements. UCSHEP worked with the Ktunaxa Nation and Secwepemc Nation (Shuswap Band) who researched their traditional Indigenous perspectives on swallows and provided content to be used on UCSHEP interpretive signage.

Through this project, numerous swallow colonies in suitable Bank Swallow habitat (e.g., near vertical, friable soils) from Canal Flats to Donald have been recorded; about 100 of those have been confirmed as Bank Swallow colonies.

This data has helped identify the area between Canal Flats and Edgewater (think Columbia Lake and Lake Windermere) as Critical Habitat for Bank Swallows, as drafted in the federal Recovery Strategy for this species. More data on achievements and the project will be in the year-end report to be released later this winter.

For more information see the project webpage here, or please contact project biologist, racheldarvill@gmail.com