Barn Swallows Under Threat

In the eaves of the Stanley Park horse barn of Vancouver’s mounted police squad sit 71 little mud nests belonging to a species of special concern: Hirundo rustica, or the barn swallow.

Photo: Michael Schmidt

These gregarious little birds are currently listed as “Threatened” by the Committee On the Status of Endangered Species In Canada (COSEWIC), and are a provincially blue listed species (“of special concern”). With concern  that this species is likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed, SPES will be conducting careful monitoring of this colony throughout the summer to get a count of active nests. This information will be added to our yearly tracking and compared to previous years. 

Photo: Erika Hyde

Photo: Erika Hyde

Barn Swallows are easily disturbed during nesting, so only dedicated trained staff will be conducting as few non-intrusive surveys as possible to determine numbers. Destruction of the swallows’ insect hunting grounds (wetland habitat, agricultural fields and meadows) combined with fewer nesting sites available in modern buildings may be contributing to their decline.

You can look for these beautiful, lightning fast acrobatic insectivores hunting flying insects over Lost Lagoon. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to regularly view this listed species right here on the edge of the city!

Photo: I, Malene (Wikimedia Commons)