The town's nest box program at the Drake Landing off-leash dog park has once again attracted nesting pairs of tree swallows.

Parks Manager Christa Michailuck says the boxes were introduced to the area as part of the town's biological control program for flying insects.

The program was launched several years ago after the town began receiving complaints about the number of mosquitoes buzzing around the off-leash park, and mosquito larvae checks determined that the adjacent storm pond was not the source of the problem. That led them to believe that mosquito larvae was flourishing on surface water on private property or in nearby ditches, but it also left them with limited options to try to control the pests.

That sparked the idea to try to attract insect-eating birds to the area.

"Tree swallows are aerial insect eaters, so they catch their insects while flying through the air," Michailuck explains. "They're not just a mosquito-eater, but mosquitoes would be included in their diet. And that was our intent of the nest box program was to decrease mosquito populations around the off-leash park for the enjoyment of the off-leash park users."

Currently, 12 of the 20 boxes are occupied by tree swallows, with wrens and house sparrows occupying some of the others. Although they added six more boxes last year, Michailuck says the swallow nest box occupancy rate remains basically the same this year compared to previous years.

"I think we were surprised to get so many tree swallows the very first year that we put the boxes up," she says. "And we estimate we've fledged about 50 young tree swallows from the entire program each year."

Local volunteers play a big role in the town's tree swallow nest box program, Michailuck says. They've helped with everything from assembling boxes to making rounds and reporting their findings to the town.

"Once the birds arrive, they make their rounds and they check on the boxes to see which boxes are being occupied and if there's any other species that are occupying the boxes," she says. "They'll do an egg count and they'll do a hatchling count throughout the nesting season."

Once the baby birds are a certain number of days old, she says the volunteers know to stay away from the boxes in order to not interfere with fledging.

Michailuck says eggs in the swallow nest boxes should be due to hatch any day now.

Questions, comments, or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]

More Local News

Missing High River Teen Found Safe

The High River RCMP issued a statement earlier today, Saturday June 23rd that 14 year old Juan Osorio has been missing since Thursday June 21. He has since been located and is safe. The police thank…

A 14 Year Old High River Teen is Missing

A High River teen is missing. The High River RCMP says 14 year old Juan Osorio was last seen on Thursday June 21 at 4:05 p.m. and it's believed he has his black mountain bike with him. Osorio is…

BuskersFest Cancelled

The seventh annual BuskersFest in Okotoks has been cancelled for today, Saturday June 23. Due to the inclement weather it's been postponed to a future undetermined date. It was supposed to run from…

Summer Is Officially Here & So Is Summer Severe Weather

With severe weather warnings in the forecast and the first day of summer passing yesterday, Environment Canada has some suggestions for the summer severe weather coming to the prairies. John Paul…

Fire Department Seeing Increase In Calls

Another busy week down for the Okotoks Fire Department. This past week they responded to 24 calls. Ken Thevenot, Okotoks Fire Chief, says the department is seeing more calls so far this year compared…

Okotoks Comes Alive For BuskersFest

Downtown Okotoks will be alive with entertainment on Saturday. The seventh annual BuskersFest will see Elizabeth Street through to North Railway Street lined with performers. Mark Doherty, Community…

BuskersFest Road Closure

Okotoks residents are being given a heads-up about a road closure for BuskersFest on Saturday. McRae Street from the Veterans Way intersection to North Railway Street and the Lineham Avenue…

OkotoksOnline.com is Okotoks' only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Search the Biz Guide

Login