This long-term study of the phenology and ecology of nesting swallows began on Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in 1999. Original work focused on Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). In 2013-14 we added nesting boxes specifically designed for Violet-green Swallows (Tachycineta thalassina).
Today students ages 10-18 work together with ASI staff through our youth mentoring and high school internship programs to monitor almost 200 nest boxes on Creamer’s Refuge and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks campus.
In 2016 we will be working with partners around the state to form the Alaska Swallow Monitoring Network!
This exciting effort involves students, teachers, and scientists from communities around the state including King Salmon, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Naknek, McCarthy, and Ester. Together we will take at aerial insectivores in the far north. Stay tuned for information on how to get involved, including how to contribute to our website.
Why swallows and why Alaska? Swallows are aerial insectivores, a group of birds that are declining rapidly, especially in northern ecosystems. Alaska is the northern extent of the breeding range of these small neotropical migrants, making it an ideal location to look at their response to changing environmental conditions.
How do we do it? The chronology and success of each nest is monitored. Adult birds are captured and banded to look at longevity and site fidelity. The diversity and abundance of aerial prey is assessed throughout the nesting season. Together, over time, these data help us learn more about swallows in the far north.
Check out some of our project archives here: