Northern Rough-winged Swallow
(Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Summary

Picture of bird
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The Northern Rough-winged Swallow, historically mostly a western species, expanded its range into eastern Canada during the 1900s. However, widespread range retractions and population decreases have recently occurred throughout Canada, including in the west. The Breeding Bird Survey indicates a large decrease in the population since the early 1970s. Causes for this decrease are unclear. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseHighBelow Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada1,000,000 - 5,000,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaLow

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between early May and late May and ends in late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

In the 1980s, there was a negative change point in the Breeding Bird Survey population trends of swallows, swifts, and nightjars across most of North America (Smith et al. 2015). Indeed, the Northern Rough-winged Swallow is one of several species of aerial-foraging insectivores showing widespread declines in Canada. Causes of these declines remain unclear, but changes in aerial insect populations have been suggested as one possible common factor, as well as landscape changes, insecticides, and climate change (Blancher et al. 2009, Nebel et al. 2010). The Northern Rough-winged Swallow nests in natural holes in trees and abandoned burrows in banks, but has also adapted to using human structures such as pipes and walls (DeJong 1996). This species does not excavate its own burrow, so reduced nest-site availability may also be a limiting factor (DeJong 1996).

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Conservation
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
 

References