Most people above a certain age recall how barn swallows once filled the air around barns and rural outbuildings. In the TriCities area, “old-timers” report that these birds used to nest in suburban carports too.
Sadly, barn swallow populations in Canada have fallen by 75-80% in the last 40 years, and they are now listed federally as a threatened species.
Dr. Michelle Jackson researches why this once-common species has experienced such a rapid decline. Her studies include monitoring barn swallow nesting success and their foraging habits within in the Little Campbell Watershed in Surrey and Langley. This work involves local landowners who contribute to nest monitoring using a citizen science approach. She and her colleagues are also studying insect diversity in swallow foraging fields in order to better understand how insect prey abundance may contribute to swallow declines.
Dr. Jackson is a conservation biologist with A Rocha Canada, a Christian conservation organization, and she is based at their Brookdale Environmental Centre in Surrey BC.
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