between home and work. Along the way is a large pond that, on a quiet day, reflects the mountains behind it. I have stopped there many times to watch birds or just enjoy the beautiful sight.
Twice, I have (badly) photographed swallows there. I don’t have a long lens for quality pictures, but tried to shoot the birds as they daubed mud under the eves, obviously building nests. And twice, I have returned days later to find no swallows and the entire building scrubbed clean; barely a shadow of mud where the nests had been remained.
Okay... it’s a motel. Even though it’s the far end of their building, I’m sure owners would prefer not to have a driveway full of guano greeting prospective guests. But…how do they get rid of the birds? I imagine pressure hoses…but when do they do this? Were the nests usable yet? Where there eggs in the nests? Where do the birds go after such an assault? Do the people poison them, I wonder; trap them perhaps?
This is a small town; I’ve been here only a few years. I realize tree-huggers are not the most welcome folks in many farming and ranching communities where herbicides, pesticides, and shooting anything deemed a problem is pretty common. And, who cares about a few hundred messy swallows?
Birds protected under the act include all common songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, hawks, owls, eagles, ravens, crows, native doves and pigeons, swifts, martins, swallows and others, including their body parts (feathers, plumes etc), nests, and eggs.
‘Take’ is defined as "to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or any attempt to carry out these activities." A take does not include habitat destruction or alteration, as long as there is not a direct taking of birds, nests, eggs, or parts thereof.
Activities which are most likely to result in ‘take’ of migratory birds on highway projects include, but are not limited to, clearing or grubbing of migratory bird nesting habitat during the nesting season when eggs or young are likely to be present, bridge cleaning, painting, demolition, or reconstruction where bird nests are present (for example, swallows). In anticipation of this situation, structures can be protected from nest establishment by various measures, such as netting or other means of interference with establishment of nests that does not result in death or injury to adults. Removal of inactive nests of migratory birds should not be accomplished prior to consultation with the USFWS office with local jurisdiction. A permit may be required for removal of inactive nests.
So, while I sympathize with motel owners and understand their need for a clean rest-stop…I wonder if what is happening is legal and handled in a way that is not detrimental to the birds. I also wonder if I’m prepared to be a Whistle Blower. If I were to complain, who does one complain to…about the possibility of miss-treated swallows?
What would you do? Please take the poll on the right
and/or leave a comment or suggestion for me.
Photographs from Wikipedia