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Regional News

Hadley Stable Where Barn Swallows Have Nested Is Set To Come Down

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will tear down a deteriorating barn at its wildlife refuge in Hadley, Massachusetts. The building has housed barn swallows, and bird advocates are fighting to keep it standing.

Andrew French of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the barn saw about 40 nesting pairs of barn swallows this year — but it's in bad shape, and isn't needed anymore. 

"We have an adjacent building with ample room to accommodate additional nesting pairs only a couple-hundred feet away," French said. "There are other structures in the immediate area, within one to three miles, that have places for the barn swallows to nest."

Mara Silver, a researcher and member of Save Our Swallows, disagrees.

"The adult barn swallows that nested there last year are going to return there," Silver said. "And the colony has been growing in size. To say they're going to find a nesting site elsewhere is an assumption that's just not grounded in science."

Silver said the advocacy group is considering its options moving forward.

The nesting site at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is believed to be one of the largest colonies for nesting barn swallows (PDF) in Massachusetts.

A map based on USGS breeding bird survey data shows a "significant" decline in the barn swallow population in most of the Northeast U.S. and elsewhere on the continent.
Credit Sauer et al. / USGS / mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov
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USGS / mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov
A map based on USGS breeding bird survey data shows a "significant" decline in the barn swallow population in most of the Northeast U.S. and elsewhere on the continent.

The barn swallow is not an endangered species, but the bird population has been undergoing a "significant" decline, according to a federal study. 

The barn structure is expected to be torn down before the next nesting season begins. 

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