Barn Swallows and social cues
An update from the field
As summer reaches its peak, many of the nests we’ve been monitoring have fledged and young Barn Swallows are developing their independence in preparation for fall migration. These nests were built in new structures designed specifically for Barn Swallows, as part of a collaborative project with Bird Studies Canada to evaluate the effects of using social cues (decoys and vocalizations) to attract this at-risk species to new structures. BECO staff and volunteers have been diligently monitoring how the birds respond to the cues, and checking nests each week to track their progress.
So far this year, all four of the first nesting attempts in the structures have successfully fledged, and two pairs are sitting on their second nests. While these birds attentively incubate their eggs, adults that have finished breeding and their recently fledged young are starting to move around. Timothy Fernandes, BECO's summer student, was amazed during a recent survey when he observed 40 Barn Swallows in the vicinity of one of the structures where only one pair bred this year. Some of the birds were hopping in and out of the wooden nest cups, possibly investigating the site’s nesting potential for next year.