Debbie Thomas writes about work being done at the Thompson Creek Eco Centre


Driving down Robinson Road, you may notice something different at the Thompson Creek Eco Centre in the tallgrass prairie.

Two large, 2.4-metre-long roof structures that tower 3.7 metres above the ground stand ready for barn swallows to take up residence during the spring 2021 nesting season. The location offers water, mud and vegetation for nest building, plenty of insects for food and the structures are designed to provide shelter and protection from prey.

Barn swallows are designated as a species at risk in Ontario, brought on by nesting habitat loss, mainly due to the disappearance of traditional old barns that used to dot rural Ontario.

The purpose of this latest Dunnville Horticultural Society project is to replace some of the habitat for local bird populations, and to act as an educational demonstration site for other people to possibly replicate and do the same.

Prior to COVID-19, our group also added 30 birdhouses spread throughout the 23-acre tallgrass prairie to entice blue birds and tree swallows in time for spring nesting.

We are happy to report we had 90 per cent occupancy of tree swallows having multiple broods, and we are hopeful blue birds will follow. Both species are also considered at risk.

We’d like to thank our member and Thompson Creek Eco Centre project lead, Dan McKay, for researching and building these structures. As an added bonus, his design of the enclosed roof section will also allow nesting space and housing for the little brown bat, another species at risk.

Also helping on the project were Roger Egger, Doug Swick, Brad House, Nathan McKay, Charlie Hartsell, and Mark, Kalen and Rowan McCormack.

Debbie Thomas is a member of the Dunnville Horticultural Society and co-chair of the Thompson Creek Eco Centre project in collaboration with project lead Dan McKay.

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