Project Description

Barn SwallowThe North American subspecies of the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) spends its summer breeding season throughout North America before migrating to Central and South America for the winter. They can be identified by their rusty orange underparts and forehead and their long, forked tail. Nests are built using mud mixed with grass stems, are cup-shaped, and are often lined with feathers. Barn Swallows typically build nests in eaves, rafters, and cross beams of barns, sheds and stables. This species has experienced serious decline; 76% of its population has been lost in Canada since the 1970s. Threats include loss of open-field foraging habitat and nesting habitat, declines in insect prey, competition from non-native species, parasites, and climate change. 

Since 2014, A Rocha Canada has monitored Barn Swallow nesting sites throughout the Little Campbell River watershed. This project relies heavily on partnerships with local landowners who contribute their knowledge of Barn Swallow nesting locations, allow us to access their properties, and collect data on nest success using a citizen science approach. Barn Swallow nest surveys involve counting eggs and chicks within nests and estimating dates for egg laying, hatching, and fledging.

We also conducted swallow foraging surveys in open fields throughout the watershed from 2017-2018. This project allowed us to better understand where swallows are foraging and which field characteristics are most important for attracting swallows. Five species of swallows were detected during these surveys, including Barn Swallows, Cliff Swallows, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Tree Swallows, and Violet-Green Swallows.

Our work on Barn Swallows is ongoing, with the goals of better understanding this species’ habitat requirements and documenting population changes in order to inform conservation action. This project has been funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program and Birds Canada’s James L. Baillie Memorial Fund.

Conservation Status

Jurisdiction Authority Year Status
B.C. Conservation Data Centre 2015 S3S4B* Blue List
Canada SARA 2017 Threatened
Canada COSEWIC 2011 Threatened
International IUCN 2016 Least Concern

*S3S4: range rank indicates a range of uncertainty about the status of the species; *S: subnational status; *3: special concern, vulnerable to extirpation or extinction; *4: apparently secure; *B: status refers to the breeding population of the species


Contact Us

Citizen Science Opportunity

Do you have nesting Barn Swallows on your property? Consider partnering with us! Each year from May – August we conduct weekly nest checks to monitor Barn Swallow breeding success. Many of our nest sites are on private land and this long-term study is dependent on the support of local landowners who steward swallow habitat. We can also give mirror poles and datasheets to landowners who are able and willing to monitor their own nests. If you live within the Little Campbell River watershed (South Surrey/South Langley, BC) and would like to participate in the project, please contact us!
Contact Us
Read Our Reports