100 Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia) nesting holes were observed on a steep exposed earthen bank that lies between the northern edge of the existing Carp landfill and the southern edge of the preferred landfill footprint. Bank Swallow is a colonial nesting species that is sensitive because a large portion of the local population is concentrated in a very small area. The colony location is important since there are a large number of breeding individuals that will forage over a large distance of several kilometres away from the site.


Since the earthen cliff currently used by nesting Bank Swallows will be destroyed by the proposed new landfill, a suitable habitat should be created. First it would be useful to determine if other suitable sites exist within about 2 km of the colony, and failing that a plan should be prepared to create a suitable earthen bank. Either ground could be excavated to form a bank or a pile of soil or sand can be imported and formed to provide a steep face. The artificial nesting site should be created before the existing site is graded. If removed, the cliff face needs to be excavated outside of the breeding season (late April to late July) when no nesting birds are present. Active bird nests are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Bank Swallow populations have declined at a rate of 4.7% annually in Ontario over the last 40 years. Significant breeding range contractions were also identified during the recent Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has recognized the Bank Swallow as a “mid-priority candidate” for status assessment; potentially adding it to a growing list of aerial insectivores at risk (e.g., Chimney Swift). The mechanisms driving these declines are unknown, but are generally thought to be a consequence of habitat loss, changes in forage base (i.e., aerial insects), and threats during migration and on the wintering grounds.

  •  Can a suitable alternate nesting area be defined?
  • Has a manmade Bank Swallow habitat ever been successfully constructed?
  • Will the Swallows come back to an active landfill?
  • How does the destruction of Bank Swallow habitat fit with the Waste Management Wildlife Habitat Conservation program?