Stephanie Chapko: Urges community reaction on barn swallow habitat

  • mactrunk

Published: 8/8/2018 8:20:14 PM
Urges community reaction on barn swallow habitat

Successful efforts to preserve barn swallows in the stables at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Fort River Refuge in Hadley are at risk (“Bird haven at crossroads,” July 21).

After acquiring the land in 2009, Fort River Refuge boarded up the stables for future removal. The result? Migrating barn swallows returned to their historical breeding location and found it closed. Despite painful efforts to enter the boarded stables, very few were able to gain entry and even fewer left.

In response to public concern, Fort River unboarded portions of the stables in 2014 to temporarily allow nesting until the stable building was torn down. Refuge volunteers advocated for the birds, launched preservation efforts and monitored barn swallow numbers.

In 2015, 30 nests produced 144 young. In 2016, 49 nests produced 191 young. There are 70 active nests in the stables in 2018. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not supported any alternatives proposed by the refuge volunteers, and they plan to demolish the stables soon rather than repair them.

Although many wildlife populations are declining, Fort River is the rare occurrence of a wildlife population increasing, and it may be one of the largest barn swallow nesting colonies in Massachusetts.

Yet, the ongoing decision-making and prioritization by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Fort River Refuge is placing the successful reestablishment of barn swallows at risk.Why destroy a successful wildlife preservation effort on public lands?

This is happening in our own backyard and the community can make a difference by making their voices heard.

Stephanie Chapko


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115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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