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Help Track Aerial Insectivores

Imagine the majestic grace of a Tree Swallow in flight. Imagine the aerial acrobatics of a Barn Swallow over a grassy meadow on a warm summer evening. Now imagine a world where these lovely birds are disappearing. This is the world in which we live.

Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows, along with Violet-green Swallows, Purple Martins, and Eastern Phoebes, belong to a group of birds known as aerial insectivores. Their agile flight style enables them to effectively hunt their primary prey, flying insects. Over the past 30 years, populations of many aerial insectivores have declined, and the cause remains unknown. However, scientists have theorized that it may be linked, in part, to declines of some insects on which these birds depend.

According to Dr. Amanda Rodewald, Director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Recent population declines in North America’s aerial insectivores are a growing concern. Conservation efforts to halt or reverse these worrisome trends are unlikely to succeed until we fully understand the causes of decline. One thing limiting our ability to identify factors driving population declines is a lack of information on reproduction.”

You can help scientists study and understand the plight of the aerial insectivores by monitoring their nests for NestWatch. The nests of many aerial insectivores are easy to find and observe. Tree Swallows and Violet-green Swallows readily use nest boxes, Barn Swallows often plaster their nests onto beams inside barns and under bridges, Purple Martins use large communal nesting houses, and Eastern Phoebes frequently nest under porch eaves and in garages. For more information on how to find these nests, and those of many other species, visit the NestWatch Focal Species webpage. Start NestWatching today and make a difference!

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology