Island Nature Trust
Improving Nesting Opportunities for Farmland Birds in PEI – Bobolink and Barn Swallow
This project encouraged landowners and farmers to protect nesting habitat for both Barn Swallow and Bobolink, two threatened migratory bird species. Landowners were informed on how to help improve nesting opportunities for Barn Swallow (keeping doors open, installing ledges, providing mud) and how to protect nesting Bobolink (delaying the harvest of hay until after July 15). The delaying of hay would also help to preserve other grassland nesting birds.
Seventy-one landowners with Barn Swallow or Bobolink nesting on their property are committed to improve and preserve nesting habitat. They have also committed to ongoing monitoring of key reproductive effort and success parameters over the long term. Data collected from staff and landowners will improve the knowledge of nesting distribution and success across PEI, allowing for the analysis of trends over years.
The project goals revisited:
- 1. Increase nesting opportunities for the threatened Barn Swallow (BARS) and Bobolink (BOBO).
- Seventy-one landowners participated in the project, providing nesting habitat for Barn Swallow and Bobolink. Other outreach through traditional and social media informed the public on how to provide or improve habitat on their properties for these species. In addition to the delayed hay statistics presented below for Bobolink, 131 buildings were kept open for Barn Swallow and nine new nest ledges were installed for Barn Swallow at the start of the season. Fifteen more ledges were given out during the summer. Advice was provided to the Town of Stratford to assist with the construction of their new Barn Swallow nesting structure near Fullerton’s Marsh. That structure was completed this fall.
- 2. Encourage farmers to delay hay harvest until after the Bobolink breeding season.
- Landowners and farmers were asked to delay harvest until July 15 or later so that nesting Bobolink could fledge their young. Eight new landowners committed to delay hay harvest or mowing. Combined with landowners continuing with the practice from the previous two years of this project, 501.5 acres of hay were subject to a delayed cut.
- 3. Increase awareness of the effects that current agricultural practices have on Barn Swallow and Bobolink populations.
- Eighteen new landowners for one or both bird species are now participating in the project. Outreach was broadly conducted through regular posts on social media, regular visits to participating farms and attendance with displays at four summer festivals. We also modified a Bird Studies survey for this project and administered it to 31 landowners. The survey allowed us to gain a better understanding and insight into human attitudes and knowledge of Barn Swallow and Bobolink, informing more focused conservation action in the future.
- 4. Improve the provincial database on nesting distribution of BARS and BOBO around PEI.
- Seventy-nine active Barn Swallow nests were located and mapped throughout PEI, with a further 149 nests recorded as inactive or status unknown. Twenty sites were found to have nesting Bobolink, and 57 males and 22 females counted. Juveniles of both species were observed after fledge.