Awarded to Wildsight (Golden Chapter) to enhance swallow habitat through installing artificial nesting structures at places where current nests are slated to be removed, educating private landowners regarding their duties to protect nests, and completing much-needed bank swallow inventory work in the Columbia Valley.

PROPONENT: Wildsight Golden

DESCRIPTION: From 2021-2023, the Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project (UCSHEP) engaged 123 volunteers, and identified 117 bank swallow colonies and 113 structures used by nesting Barn Swallows in the region between Canal Flats and Edgewater, indicating that this area provides critical breeding habitat for this species. They completed building 7 artificial nesting structures (ANSs) for barn swallows in the Columbia Valley, worked with BC Parks to restore bank swallow habitat at Windermere Lake Provincial Park that faced negative effects from human recreational activities, and installed 84 nest cups on pre-existing buildings and ANSs. A Bank Swallow habitat enhancement project was completed in Athalmer with the District of Invermere, and a colony was saved from being removed. The project installed Motus Wildlife Tracking Stations with Environment and Climate Change Canada and tagged 100 bank swallows in 2022 and 2023 at 2 colonies near Invermere. Motus data will continue to provide unprecedented information on post-breeding habitat and migration routes. We have placed interpretive signage at habitat enhancement sites, with Indigenous perspectives on swallows highlighted (provided by Ktunaxa and Secw├ępemc Nations). Numerous private landowner visits and phone calls were made about swallow inventories or conservation on private land and education on co-existence.

OBJECTIVE: The Upper Columbia Valley Swallow Enhancement Project was a three-year (2021-2023) project that used a multifaceted approach to conserve and enhance habitat for two at-risk swallow species in the Upper Columbia Va;;ey. The main overarching objectives of the project were to: 1) Erect artificial nesting structures for swallows to increase habitat availability; 2) Complete effectiveness monitoring at the artificial nesting structures; 3) Build increased awareness for swallow species and their conservation status; and, 4) Coordinate citizen-scientists and First Nations to inventory/monitor swallow nests.

PHOTOS: Rachel Darvill

Watch the video for an excellent overview of this project.