This long-term study of the phenology and ecology of nesting swallows began on Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in the mid 1990s. Data collection is focused on Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). Swallows are aerial insectivores, a group of birds that are declining, 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.
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. The chronology and success of each nest is monitored and adult birds are captured and banded to look at longevity and site fidelity. Nestlings are also banded. Over time, these data will help us learn more about the adaptability and conservation of songbirds in the far north.
In 2016 we began a partnership with communities around the state to form the Alaska Swallow Monitoring Network.
This exciting effort involves students, teachers, and scientists from Alaska communities including: King Salmon, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Naknek, McCarthy, Ruby, Juneau, Bethel, and Ester. Together we are investigating phenology and breeding success of Tree Swallows in the far north, while educating participating community members about songbird conservation in a changing climate. Follow the link for more information.