People taking down nests of cliff swallows commit federal crime, sin against nature
If you’ve spent any time around Dillon Reservoir you have witnessed tree swallows sweeping through the air for insects, especially early morning and evening.
In fact, they can consume 1,000 mosquitoes in one evening among other flying insects. But unfortunately, if you are looking for cliff swallows, you’ll be hard-pressed to find them.
When they ended their migratory journey this spring, flying all the way from South America, arriving in Dillon to nest at condo complexes on Tenderfoot Street where they have been nesting for more than 15 years, they were turned away.
Their previous nests had been removed and when they initiated new nests, those attempts were thwarted as well. Currently, their nest starts continue to be unlawfully removed from the buildings.
The scene has been one of continued confusion, flurry, and deep sadness. Their migratory return each season could be likened to swallows returning to Capistrano – but alas, no more.
Would there be compromise? During a recent walk among the buildings, we located one, lone nest under a remote roof line. The new nest next to it had recently been removed. Cliff swallows nest in colonies, so this lone nest represents human cruelty – a sick grandiose gesture and failed attempt at compromise.
On another building, we sighted a cliff swallow clinging to the remains of a nest that had all the evidence of recently being destroyed.
The ” Migratory Bird Treaty Act” (MBTA) was enacted to protect migratory birds both within and outside our borders. All swallows are protected by the MBTA, and this protection extends to old, used nests because cliff swallows return to nests used in previous seasons, repairing any in need of work prior to egg laying.
If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants a nest-take permit for these inactive nests. The nests must be taken well prior to actual nesting activity, no later than early April. After that point, taking nests, i.e., removal of nest starts or fully active nests, is a violation of the MBTA – a felony.
The question has been asked, “Who is removing the new nest attempts?” I’m told, “not the property management company; not the on-site managers; it could be an individual condo owner.”
But why would an owner have a high-pressure hose of sufficient magnitude to accomplish such a task. Assume an owner did start blasting his or her own building, wouldn’t the on-site managers be on the scene in a New York minute to stop this activity because of the damage this hypothetical un-skilled individual owner might cause to a window, a car?
The various homeowners associations will tolerate loud cars, loud music and loud people. But the line is drawn when it comes to one of the most beneficial birds found in our environment – cliff swallows.
The nesting season is over for this beloved migratory bird. The number of attempted nest starts are dwindling and for naught. When the birds leave for their winter range, if they know what’s good for them, they won’t (cannot) return to Dillon because the doors have been closed.
The community should be made aware we have lost a treasured species due to human arrogance and ignorance. You see, they have nowhere else to go.
In contrast to the tree swallow, cliff swallows cannot opt to nest in nest boxes but must locate just the right area for their colony and gather mud from the shores of the reservoir of just the right consistency to build their intricate, beautiful nests.
There is not enough time now, so they will continue to attempt to nest at the condo complexes and they will continue to be unlawfully turned away.
There must be consequences for what has been done to them and to the community, and for the blatant disregard of the laws in place which should provide protection for our migratory birds.
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