McNabs Island visitors urged to avoid nesting Barn Swallows
June 8, 2017 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Environment and Climate Change Canada
After several nests were destroyed, last July, at Fort McNab National Historic Site, Environment and Climate Change Canada wildlife enforcement officers and Parks Canada wardens are stepping up monitoring efforts, this spring, at one of Nova Scotia’s largest Barn Swallow breeding colonies located on McNabs Island, in Halifax Harbour. Although Barn Swallows are one of the world’s most widespread and common land-bird species, populations in Canada have declined by more than 75 percent since the 1970s. This rate of decline is a cause for conservation concern.
Biologists are working to get the full picture as to why Barn Swallow populations are in decline, but we know that swallow populations in Canada face a number of potential threats. These threats include changes in the availability of flying insects, which are their main food source during their breeding season, as well as degraded habitat along migration routes and on wintering grounds.
During the breeding period, which runs from May to August, visitors to McNabs Island are urged to help protect these birds by avoiding nesting areas in the buildings at Fort McNab.
Everyone can help protect these birds in our communities by doing a few other simple things. Leave nests alone and avoid known nesting areas during breeding season. The Barn Swallow’s diet consists solely of insects, so help protect its food source by not using pesticides in gardens. Make habitat in protected areas available to the birds by keeping barn and shed doors open all spring and summer, and create nesting habitat by placing cups or shelves close to the ceiling of these shelters.
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has assessed the Barn Swallow as threatened and has proposed the species be listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. In 2013, the Barn Swallow was listed as endangered under Nova Scotia’s Endangered Species Act.
The Barn Swallow is a medium-sized songbird that is easily recognized by its steely blue upper body, cinnamon underparts, chestnut throat and forehead, and deeply forked tail. Its glossy plumage glitters in the sunlight, and its song is a cheerful warble.
The Barn Swallow is a type of aerial insectivore bird species, meaning its diet is primarily made up of flying insects, which are eaten in very large quantities.
The Migratory Birds Regulations prohibit disturbing, destroying, or taking a migratory bird’s nest or eggs except as authorized by a permit. Convicted offenders face penalties established in the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, and they may be subject to fines of up to $1,000,000 or imprisonment of up to three years, or both.
Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll free)
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