Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario
Newsletter No. 1, July 2015
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Barn Swallow nest
Photo: Timothy Fernandes

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.

Bird conference in Nova Scotia

BECO presents Barn Swallow research at the 2015 ornithology meeting in Wolfville

Andrew Campomizzi and Zoe Lebrun-Southcott, BECO's Research Scientist and Executive Director, attended the joint meeting of the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Society of Canadian Ornithologists, and the Wilson Ornithological Society in July to present a poster discussing preliminary results of BECO's research on using social cues to attract Barn Swallows to new structures.

Although a preliminary analysis of data collected so far suggests that social cues may not increase the use of new structures by Barn Swallows, results are providing valuable information for improving Barn Swallow conservation. The poster was well received and many conference participants were interested in discussing the issues and challenges related to conserving and providing habitat for Barn Swallows.

Prairie Warbler
Photo: Dan Derbyshire

Prairie Warbler Project update

Surveys in Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park

BECO is developing a Prairie Warbler Project to investigate the current distribution of this rare species. In June, we conducted preliminary field surveys in Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park, near Carden, Ontario. We surveyed for Prairie Warblers in areas recently identified by a habitat model as potential Prairie Warbler habitat. We spent 5 days hiking parts of the rugged Ganaraska Trail and its side trails through the shrubby rock barrens where the species breeds in central Ontario. This preliminary work will be used to guide and develop future surveys to improve our understanding of where Prairie Warblers breed in central Ontario.

The Prairie Warbler is a rare songbird in Canada, found only in Ontario. Available data suggests that only about 320 pairs breed in the province. Its conservation status is scheduled for reassessment by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

BECO staff
Photo: Timothy Fernandes

BECO's first fundraiser

Focusing on songbird conservation science

We launched BECO's first online campaign in early July to raise funds in support of our research on Barn Swallows and Prairie Warblers. Check out the campaign page to see a short video about our Barn Swallow research and to learn more about our projects.

We've almost reached our goal of raising $3,000 in support of songbird conservation!

Please consider making a contribution to help us get there.


Focusing on songbird conservation science
Assistance for the Barn Swallow project was provided by the Government of Ontario, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, and the City of Waterloo. Additional support for our projects was provided by Mountain Equipment Co-op and Vortex Canada.
Copyright © 2015 Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario, All rights reserved.

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