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Quad 30 Bird of the Day

Wednesday, June 23rd


The Swallows

When we discuss breeding bird populations, it seems like we don't think much about the swallow species other than the Purple Martin's. Most birders recognize that the martin population in the Upper Great Lakes region has decline precipitously over the past 20 years. For example, the martin population in WI has declined annually at an 8.3% rate according to BBS data from 1980-2003. But what about the other swallows? I just don't seem to see as many swallows on my BBS routes as I once did.

Using BBS data from WI for the 1980-2003 period, the trend is negative for 4 of the 5 species, with only the Bank showing a positive trend (0.3% annually). All of the others have negative trends over this almost 25-year period. The percentages are 3.5% for the rough-winged, 1.4% for cliff, 1.2% for barn, and 0.5% for tree. These trends certainly aren't as alarming as that for the martin, but what do we or what should we think about them? Do we need to think more about swallows when we are preparing bird conservation or management plans?

It is so easy to get caught up with the charismatic species or the ones that the media choose to hype, but we must not ignore the plight of any of our native species. That is why I'm so excited with the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative - it is addressing all native bird species. Please find out more about WBCI and what you and the organizations you support can do to support WBCI's work. The web site is

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