Swallow nests. (Rachel Darvill photo)

Swallow nests. (Rachel Darvill photo)

Wildlife tracking system for bank swallows being used in the Columbia Valley

Automated radio-telemetry stations track movement of the birds

Wildsight Golden is collaborating with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service (ECCC CWS) to track bank swallows.

Through the partnership with ECCC CWS, three long-range Motus Wildlife Tracking Stations are being installed in the Columbia Valley this year, as a part of the Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project (UCSHEP).

These automated radio-telemetry stations track the movement and behaviour of small flying animals that have

MOTUS tags attached to them. These tags should fall off a swallow within six months of attachment.

UCSHEP and ECCC CWS will be tagging about 50 individual bank swallows in 2022 with the tagging of another 50 birds in 2023.

“Using MOTUS will help us understand the migratory pathways of western bank swallows. Knowing where bank swallows spend time outside of their breeding range will help us learn what other areas are important to conserve, leading to forming international collaborations providing landscape-level benefits,” explains Rachel Darvill, UCSHEP lead project biologist.

Bank swallows are arguably facing the fastest population decline for a species in Canada, says Wildsight, with a 98 per cent population loss over a recent 40-year period.

There is currently no data on the migratory pathway used by western Canada’s Bank swallow populations.

Data will help biologists understand the migratory patterns of these birds and knowing where bank swallows spend time outside of their breeding range will help us learn what other areas are important to conserve, explained Darvill.

The partnership between Darvill and Wildsight is not new – the two have previously collaborated on a Swallow project that wrapped up with a final report in January of this past year, which concluded that the Columbia Wetlands were a vital habitat for bank and barn swallows.

The project provided information to communities regarding the Migratory Birds Convention Act, including obligations under this Act by assisting private landowners with empowering education regarding their duties to protect nests.

Research from this previous project has now transformed into the five-year Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project.

For more information please see https://wildsight.ca/branches/golden/upper-columbia-swallow-habitat-enhancement-project/.