Barn swallows

Banff National Park

  • Barn Swallows are medium sized songbirds easily recognized by their forked tail, dark blue back and wings, chestnut throat and forehead, and tawny underparts.
  • Barn Swallows are present in Banff National Park from late spring to fall. They are often seen in open habitats or along lake and river shorelines foraging for flying insects which are their main food source.
  • Barn Swallows prefer to nest in and around human-made structures. Their cup-shaped nests can be found attached to vertical surfaces with a supporting ledge, protected by an overhang.


Barn Swallows are a threatened species in Canada

Barn Swallow populations across Canada have declined by nearly 80% since the 1980s. In 2017, the Barn Swallow was designated as Threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Barn Swallows need our help!

Protecting Barn Swallow nests and documenting nesting activity and success are two actions Parks Canada and the public can undertake to protect and recover this threatened species. Barn Swallows often return to the same nesting location year after year. Reusing old nests conserves energy and improves breeding activity which contributes towards increasing their population.


Barn Swallows and their nests are protected by law

In Banff National Park, Barn Swallows and their nests are protected by law under the National Parks Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and the Species at Risk Act. It is illegal to disturb Barn Swallows and their occupied or unoccupied nests. Violators will be charged, be required to appear in court, and could pay fines up to $25 000.

To report Barn Swallow nesting activity, or if a Barn Swallow nest poses a health or safety risk to humans, call 403-762-1470 and a Parks Canada Resource Conservation Officer will respond. If you witness anyone disturbing a Barn Swallow and/or its nest, observe, record and report this information to Banff Emergency Dispatch 403-762-1470, anytime day or night.

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