Saving Ontario's Barn Swallow Population


Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica), a threatened species protected under Ontario's Endangered Species Act (2007), nest almost exclusively on human-made structures such as barns, sheds, bridges, and culverts. According to the provincial government, Ontario's Barn Swallow population declined 65 per cent between 1966 and 2009. Although the cause is unknown, researchers suspect habitat loss is a contributing factor.

In 2015, COLE was retained by Infrastructure Ontario (IO) to provide consulting services in support of the demolition of several derelict buildings in the Town of Townsend. One of the structures on the property (an old barn) provided nesting habitat for Barn Swallow. COLE biologists designed and oversaw the construction of replacement nesting structures and partnered with Bird Studies Canada (BSC) to monitor the use of these structures. COLE and BSC completed the first year of a three year post-construction monitoring program in 2016 and are currently mid-way through the second year of monitoring. The structures are functioning as intended and have served as nesting habitat for Barn Swallows in 2016 and 2017.
 
This is Ontario's most successful Barn Swallow habitat replacement project to date, and on June 21, 2017 Canadian Press spent some time on site checking out the new nesting structures. Read all about it here.