Cliff Swallow Nests are repeatedly being destroyed at Pitt Lake this summer!

Back in June Ilya and I went to Pitt Lake for some birding. We ended up finding a Yellow-breasted Chat and were really happy. We were happy until we returned to the main dyke to look for Ospreys. We were walking by the observation tower when we saw and heard frantic Cliff Swallows flying around the tower and clinging to it in pairs. It was odd behavior and we quickly clued in that someone had knocked down their nests. This was on June 15, 2019. The nests were cleanly knocked off and appeared to be power washed.

Cliff Swallows flying around frantically and clinging where their nests once were at Pitt Lake - Photo: Melissa Hafting

The only way to get to the tower is by a locked gate. The tower is maintained by the Provincial Gov't and the land owned by the Katzie First Nations. We reported the crime to the Conservation Officer, to the Canadian Wildlife Service, the provincial biologist who managed the Pitt-Addington Wildlife Management Area and the Federal wildlife enforcement officer. 

They went out and investigated but everyone interviewed denied involvement. There is no cameras on site. We asked for cameras on site and for the stairs to be blocked so the culprit couldn't get access to the nesting birds. These requests were denied.
Our friend Carlo Giovanella went there on June 21, 2019 and saw that the birds were actively rebuilding their nests. They had chicks and eggs in there over the summer but on August 4, 2019 when he returned the nests were removed once again. 

Cliff Swallows rebuilding their nests on June 21, 2019 at Pitt Lake - Photos: Carlo Giovanella

It is cruel and illegal to kill nestlings and destroy nests. The birds get severely distressed and cling to the walls for days after looking for their killed young.

Cliff Swallow nests destroyed on August 4, 2019 at Pitt Lake - Photo: Carlo Giovanella

This could have all been prevented if the access to the stairs were simply blocked when the birds began re-nesting. We did notify all agencies that we reported to that the birds has begun re-nesting.

I'm very frustrated they didn't block off the stairs and are still humming and hawing in a decision to put in the trail camera and the stairs. These birds are protected under the BC wildlife act and the migratory birds act. Therefore due to inaction and because this happened twice this summer to these poor birds I decided to contact the media. I was not able to attend the TV interview but my friends Larry Cowan and Carlo Giovanella filled in and did a fantastic job. Thank you to them for helping me out and helping the birds!

You can watch the CBC News interview HERE by scrolling to (15:57)

You can read the news article HERE

Let's hope the Cliff Swallows are not forgotten next nesting season and the tower stairs are blocked from public access, trail cameras installed and that the media attention deters the culprit from attacking the birds again.

It is  a sad fact but Carlo has recorded the destruction of the nests at Pitt Lake since 2009. He took photos of destroyed nests in 2013. You can read about the 2013 destruction and see the photos at Carlo's blog HERE. It happened again in 2015 and now in 2019. In 2013 the stairs were blocked off but the birds never returned to nest for several years. Let's hope that they return in 2020 and this time nest in a safe and protected environment.


  1. This is truly terrible. Hope that the people are caught and glad that this has come to peoples attention it will stop now.

    1. thanks sure is ... also 150 cliff swallow nests were also destroyed in osoyoos. see here

      I just wish at pitt lake that they would put up a camera and block access to the stairs so the vicious culprit could no longer kill the birds :(. I Don't know why there is so much reluctance to do so for the authorities involved... birds just dont carry much clout so they dont seem to care as much.

    2. It’s happening again at Pitt lake…July 5th/23 someone destroying the cliff swallow nests 🙁

    3. sadly I have heard it has been reported but can you please email me with what you saw and any photos you have so i can forward them to the CO and the federal wildlife enforcement officer? bcbirdergirl(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. By MO I suspect one or more janitors who simply neglected the law on duty.


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