10 May 2013
The Department of the Environment is asking for islanders’ help to learn more about the habits of migratory birds in Jersey.
To coincide with World Migratory Bird Day, the Department of the Environment is asking people to report where swallows and house martins are nesting in order to develop a better picture of where these dramatic birds live and how many make their home in Jersey.
World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) takes place each year in mid-May across the world. It aims to raise awareness of the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats.
6,000 mile journey
Migratory birds connect all corners and almost every environment of the world along their migration paths. They come to Jersey every spring from Sub-Saharan Africa where they spend the winter. After raising several broods, weather permitting, they make their return journey travelling back 6,000 miles through France, Spain and into Morocco, before crossing the Sahara and down to South Africa.
Like bats, migratory birds are unusual in their association with humans. Due to the scarcity of natural nesting sites these creatures are most commonly found roosting in barns, stables or under the eaves of houses. They construct a cup-shaped nest made from mud, which they build in a sheltered location protected from predators and the worst of the weather.
The birds and their nests are protected by the Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000 which means people have an obligation under the law, not to harm them.
Protected in law
In addition, Jersey’s 2011 Island Plan promotes the Island’s biodiversity and states that people have to take into account protected species when they are putting forward and carrying out development proposals. If their building plans may affect protected species or habitats, people are expected to assess the risk and outline what steps they plan to take, to limit any possible harm.
Consequently, the Department of the Environment wants to increase awareness of the birds and nests’ protected status. It also wants to find out more about where the birds nest so it can help promote the provision of secure nesting sites.
Senior Natural Environment Officer, Tim Liddiard, said: “There can’t be many Islanders who don’t enjoy our migratory birds. Throughout the summer they can be seen displaying their aerial dexterity, catching food on the wing in spectacular dogfights.
“With people’s help in reporting nesting sites, we’ll understand more about these amazing birds and how we can help them further,. For example, we may suggest the inclusion of artificial nesting sites in building projects – they’re inexpensive and easy to incorporate into modern developments. And ultimately it means we’re investing in a richer and more diverse future for minimal cost.”
How to report a nesting site
If you find nesting barn swallows or house martins, please contact the Department of the Environment. Please include the postal address of the house with the nesting site. You can get in touch in the following ways:
By phone: 441600
By post: Department of the Environment, Howard Davis Farm, La Route de la Trinité, Trinity, JE3 5JP.
In recognition of these birds vulnerable status the UK RSPB has designated both barn swallows and house martins as amber status in their species status reports.
Swallows migrate by day at low altitudes finding food on route. Migration is a hazardous time and many birds die from starvation, exhaustion and in storms. Swallows can cover 200 miles a day, mainly during daylight, at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour with a maximum flight speed of 35 mph.
Depending on the weather swallows will arrive in April and May for the summer, returning south to their wintering grounds in September and October.
Swallows and martins are protected through the Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000. This law ensures protection of the adult birds, eggs and the young as well as the nest whilst is in use.
As a signatory of the Bern Convention, Jersey is obligated to have regard to the conservation of scheduled species in their planning and development policies and to undertake co-ordination of efforts to protect migratory species.