Swallows usually nest inside or outside of buildings such as barns, under bridges and wharves, and in road culverts. Under provincial regulations, the City must prevent barn swallows from nesting in a work area — by installing netting under a bridge, for example — and provide alternate nesting sites nearby for at least three years.

You may have noticed some of these peaked boxes along Riverside Drive near Smyth Rd, built to shelter the birds while the McIlwraith Bridge is being repaired. In 2015, Claridge Homes built one in the Chapman Mills Conservation Area in return for a barn being removed in Riverside South.


A migratory species, the swallows nest in our area as early as mid-May. Look for them cruising at high speeds just above the ground or water, swooping to catch flies and other insects. A medium-sized bird (15 to 18 cm), they have steel-blue backs and upper wings, and rusty-red foreheads and throats. Their long tail feathers form a distinctive, deep fork with a line of white spots on the outer end.

David Bartlett Park

Dog Walkers' Association

Photograph by:  Jackson Hibler

Learn more about the barn swallow and what is being done to protect them: https://www.ontario.ca/page/barn-swallow

New condo development for winged tenants

​Member article by Michelle Hibler

The park is getting ready to welcome new tenants. To house our guests, a mini-condo has been built along the river, in the park’s fenced-off zone just north of the ramp into river. The wooden structure-on-stilts is a barn swallow house and nesting box, erected to temporarily house the birds while the McLean St Bridge is being repaired.

Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) are threatened in Canada: their numbers dropped by 65% between 1966 and 2009 in Ontario. Their habitat is protected under the Provincial Endangered Species Act.