Canada: 'It's a disgusting thing': 150 cliff swallow nests allegedly destroyed at Osoyoos resort - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada'It's a disgusting thing': 150 cliff swallow nests allegedly destroyed at Osoyoos resort

16:38  13 august  2019
16:38  13 august  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

'It's illegal, it's immoral': Alleged destruction of protected cliff swallow nests triggers investigation

'It's illegal, it's immoral': Alleged destruction of protected cliff swallow nests triggers investigation Federal and provincial officials are investigating after local birders reported the apparent destruction of about a dozen cliff swallow nests at an observation tower at Pitt-Addington Marsh in Pitt Meadows, B.C. Local birders noticed the swallows — which, along with their nests and eggs, are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act — had been building mud nests at the tower earlier this year. But at some point in recent weeks, the nests were removed. "It's illegal, it's immoral, it's unethical, it's a tragedy," said Carlo Giovanella, a birder who has frequented the area around Pitt Lake for about three decades.

A robin' s nest is a familiar sight but have you ever seen a Cliff Swallow nest ? Cliff Swallows use their bills to gather mud alongside puddles, streams

American cliff swallows decide upon arrival to their nesting site whether they will fix a nest from the previous season or build a new nest .[2][4] Building a Once the house sparrows pick their nest , they will bring in grass and other materials making it impossible for the cliff swallows to re -establish their

'It's a disgusting thing': 150 cliff swallow nests allegedly destroyed at Osoyoos resort © Getty A file photo of a cliff swallow

Officials with the enforcement branch of Environment and Climate Change Canada are investigating an alleged case of mass cliff swallow nest destruction at Walnut Beach Resort in Osoyoos, B.C.

The investigation began in early July, according to Ross Dolan, acting regional director of the enforcement branch in the Yukon and Pacific region.

"Typically the type of nesting complaints we get are for smaller colonies," said Dolan. "So something like this, when you receive information about 150 nests, definitely that's something that we'll take very seriously."

The complaint lodged with the Canada Wildlife Service, the provincial ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and the B.C. SPCA by a guest at the resort specified that the remains of 148 nests were counted, with 35 nests left intact on July 1.

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Osoyoos (/ɒˈsuːjuː s /, historically /ˈsuːjuː s /) is the southernmost town in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia between Penticton and Omak. The town is 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) north of the United States border with Washington state and is adjacent to the Osoyoos Indian Reserve.

Although the Cliff Swallow can nest solitarily, it usually nests in colonies. Colonies tend to be small in the East, but further west they can When young Cliff Swallows leave their nests they congregate in large groups called creches. A pair of swallows can find its own young in the creche primarily by voice.

Swallows are in steep decline in Canada and according to the conservancy group Nature Canada, the cliff swallow population in B.C. has dropped by nearly 90 per cent since 1970.

They're protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and destroying nests with eggs, nestlings, or adult birds can result in warnings, fines, or prosecution.

'It's a disgusting thing': 150 cliff swallow nests allegedly destroyed at Osoyoos resort © Carlo Giovanella A cliff swallow pokes its head out of a mud pellet nest near Pitt Late in 2013.

Last year, a lodge in Banff National Park was fined $27,000 after maintenance staff removed and destroyed an egg and four barn swallow nests.

Myles Lamont is a Surrey-based wildlife biologist familiar with the complaint of destroyed cliff swallow nests at Walnut Beach Resort.

He said the alleged breach of the Migratory Birds Convention Act is one of the largest he's aware of.

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It ’ s thought that they originated in Africa, where a drier climate may have promoted making nests from mud—a behavior also seen in flamingos, for example. The cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) and the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) both create distinctive mud nests under the eaves of buildings.

Cliff Swallows traditionally built their nests on vertical cliff faces. With the expansion of road infrastructure they have adopted many bridges, overpasses, and culverts as their colonial nesting sites. They feed in areas near and over water, frequently mixing with other species of swallows .

"It's a disgusting thing to even think about," said Lamont, who added that the nests were all being used by the colony this season, so hundreds of eggs, hatchlings, and grown birds would have been killed when the nests were removed.

Lamont said the appropriate way to deal with an unwanted colony of cliff swallows would be to wait until after nesting season, remove the nests, and install nets or other deterrents to keep the birds from re-establishing their colony in the same place the following year.

'It's not correct'

Don Brogan, general manager of Walnut Beach Resort, said he's aware of the incident, but that the account reported to authorities wasn't accurate.

"It's not correct, but I can't comment on it. It's under investigation," said Brogan.

"I've been instructed by legal advice to say I have no comment, but yes, there were no birds destroyed," he said. "But it's under investigation and I can't make a comment. Sorry."

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Cliff Swallows sleep in trees for most of the year, but a breeding bird will start sleeping in the nest as soon as the structure is partially finished. Each bird has one mate with whom it raises young, but the pair does not associate away from the nest , and both members frequently mate outside the pair bond.

Cliff Swallows build their mud nests on cliff faces and other vertical surfaces in colonies containing hundreds, even thousands of other birds. They also build nests in the eaves of buildings. The pair works together, gathering pellets of wet mud in their beaks and laying them down one by one in rows

Dolan said the ECCC enforcement branch is kept very busy with complaints of disrupted nests during nesting season, with new calls about different birds covered under the Migratory Birds Convention Act nearly every day. But he said most complaints are regarding a single nest or smaller colony, so this case stands out.

"Something of that scale is unusual. That's not the type of daily occurrence that we receive," he said, adding that he couldn't say when the investigation is expected to wrap up.

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