Volunteers to Monitor Swallows Wanted!

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With the arrival of migratory birds also comes the third year of the five-year (2021-2026) Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project (UCSHEP), administered by Wildsight Golden. This project would not be possible without the generous contributions of volunteers willing to observe swallows, record observations, and collectively work towards swallow conservation in the Columbia Valley.

The project is looking for volunteers to help with Barn, Bank and Cliff Swallow nest monitoring, between May – September for barn/cliff swallows and June – July for bank swallows. The UCSHEP has lots of exciting things lined up for 2023, including banding 50 Bank Swallows and tracking them through Motus Wildlife Tracking Stations in the Columbia Valley. This tracking initiative allows us to track the movements of Bank Swallows during times of breeding, post-breeding, and identify currently unknown migration routes and winter areas. Once we identify these important habitat areas, we can work to conserve them. The Motus work is being done in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service.

We are also working on erecting large artificial nesting structures (16 ft x 18 ft) for Barn Swallows, enhancing Bank Swallow breeding habitat, and effectiveness monitoring of artificial nesting structures built in 2021 and 2022. We will continue with private landowner outreach, and educational events. For our interpretive signage at enhancement sites, we have been working with local Indigenous peoples (Ktuxana Nation and Shuswap Band) to share their traditional perspectives on swallows.

The UCSHEP biologist Rachel Darvill will be giving a Wings Over the Rockies (WOTR) luncheon presentation, entitled ‘Conservation Actions for At-risk Swallows in the Columbia Valley’, on Friday, May 12, 2023 from 12:00 pm-1:00 pm. There is a fee to attend and registration is required. If interested, please visit the WOTR website. If you would like to volunteer on this project, or have any questions about this multifaceted swallow conservation project, please email us at swallows@wildsight.ca!

This project would not be possible without citizen-scientists, our partners or our major funders: Columbia Basin Trust’s Ecosystem Enhancement Program, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, RDEK’s Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, BC Parks, BC Gaming Grant. For a full list of the organizations involved with this project, please visit the UCSHEP website.

If you are interested in financially donating to this swallow conservation initiative, please click here.