CBC News, November 28, 2017 – Ecologists at Stanley Park call on public to build nest boxes, help save tree swallows

The nest boxes house the park’s tree swallows, a species under threat because of declining habitats and food sources.

Boxes will be placed in the park’s lakes and lagoons in the spring

Clare Hennig · CBC News · Posted: Nov 28, 2017 9:27 AM PT | Last Updated: November 28, 2017

Kathleen Stormont with the Stanley Park Ecology Society holds one of the completed nest boxes. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Some bird populations in Metro Vancouver are at risk of disappearing and a local ecology group in Stanley Park is asking the public to step in and help save them.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society is holding a nest box building workshop on Tuesday as part of a Giving Tuesday initiative to encourage people to give time or money.

The nest boxes house the park’s tree swallows, a species under threat because of declining habitats and food sources.

“We are asking Vancouverites to come and help us build these nest boxes that we put up in the park in the spring,” said Kathleen Stormont, fundraising and communications specialist with the society.

“A tree swallow is pretty small – you’ll see them swooping over Lost Lagoon in the summertime, really acrobatic. I’d say they are about the size of a flying mouse,” says Kathleen Stormont. (Michael Schmidt/Stanley Park Ecology Society)

The population of tree swallows across North America have declined steeply in the past few decades. On British Columbia’s coastline, Stormont said, the number of tree swallows has decreased 86 per cent since 1970.

“Their habitats are declining, their food supplies are disappearing and we do have a population in the park here that we can support,” she said.

Tree swallows normally raise chicks in hollow trees but are facing fewer and fewer nesting options in Stanley Park.  

“Hollow trees are usually rotten trees and they pose safety hazards here in the park so the Park Board does take them down,” Stormont explained.

Tools and materials will be provided at the nest box building workshop. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

The man-made boxes mimic their natural habitat, with a small entrance hole to prevent larger predators from entering and weather-proof edges to keep the inside warm and dry.

“We need help building these nest boxes, we are not carpenters ourselves,” Stormont said. “We are all ecologists and biologists so we’ve invited the public to come and build the nest boxes to support habitat for the birds.”

Ecologists and biologists don hip waders to place the nest poles on poles above the water. (Michael Schmidt/Stanley Park Ecology Society)

The nest boxes will be attached to long aluminum poles and then placed in the middle of Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake in the spring, when the tree swallows migrate back to the park.

The Nest Box Building Bee workshop will be held in Stanley Park at Nature House on Lost Lagoon, starting at 7 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

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