This was the last summer for the swallow project. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how quickly it has gone. In total, we monitored over 1,200 swallow nests, banded over 2,300 swallow chicks, captured 1,255 adult swallows at least once (and several were captured every year!) and we were awake for countless beautiful sunrises.
But I think the real take-away from my summers with swallows is the importance of community in conservation. While I can spend hours monitoring nests and banding swallows, conservation only truly happens when other people get involved.
There are the more obvious members of the conservation community, like the incredible field staff I’ve worked with for the last four years, government organizations that will use our results to inform policy and recovery planning, and funders who give us the money we need to pay for field work.
But the superstars of conservation are the landowners. They open barns all summer, set up ledges and boxes for swallows to use for nesting, and so much more. In return, they have to put up with the extra poop the swallows leave! The landowners are usually more aware of what has been happening on their properties and fill us in on where new nests are being built and if the chicks from 11B have finally left the nest. The landowners also allow us to show up at all hours of the day (and often early mornings too) and occasionally leave baked goods for us to find. They share stories about their children, grandchildren, dogs, and make us feel so welcome to do research on their land and with their swallows. Sometimes, the landowners even lend a hand when we’re catching and banding birds!
I’ve been a part of this amazing community focused on conserving swallows for the last four years and I can’t thank everyone enough.