Swallows Under the Route 202

The next time you are riding along route 202 near McClintock, look up. Beneath that overpass there is a story to be told. This one came from my archives and was written by Paul, our friend at Wildwing – another rescue and rehab organization here in the Valley run by Paul and Gloria.


Gloria and I received a phone call from Kevin Grove, a senior biologist with HDR, an engineering and architectural firm that creates plans for construction companies that need an environmental assessment of their activities. HDR is overseeing the environmental aspect of the Loop 202 widening project at McClintock and the Salt River. The roadway is elevated over the river, and all of the support piers for the 202 are home to many, many Cliff Swallow nests. A single lane is being added to the westbound and eastbound lanes, and this necessitates adding more support piers outside of the existing ones. U.S. fish & Wildlife guidelines dictate that if the new construction is within so many feet of active nests, then a mitigation program has to be developed. The outside support piers of the original lanes are too close to the new construction . . . so removal of Swallow eggs/hatchling/nestlings was the only way to proceed.

Pam Horton and I arrived at the site (McClintock & 202) early Monday on the 22nd of June, and were led down into the river bed. We proceeded to gear up—hard hat, long pants, eye protection, and gloves.  I also had to don a safety harness that would have secured an elephant—riding in the bucket lift made this a must. We closely examined all of the nests on the three support piers, and did remove 22 hatchling/nestling Cliff Swallows, along with 16 eggs. All are doing well.  HDR tried many ways to exclude the Swallows from nesting on the support piers—all to no avail. What finally did work were narrow strips of garbage bag attached to the top of each pier, and then sprayed with Pam, making the surface too slippery for the swallows to attach their nesting materials.  In about 10 days the next phase of this project will commence, and we will be called on to assist again in removal—our hope is that many nests will be empty, as this is the end of the Cliff Swallow breeding season. Cross your fingers and knock on wood!.  – Paul Halesworth 

Mission accomplished Paul!! 

Swallow nests under pillar of highway


Inspecting for swallow nests and eggs

Paul and Pam going up in bucket for swallow rescue

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