People visiting the Value Village on Horseshoe Cres. in Waterdown are in for a chirpy surprise.

A family, or "flight," of Barn Swallows, a species of birds recently added to the threatened species list by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources, has built a mud nest in the front awning of the store.

Joe Minor first noticed the nest on Wednesday afternoon while visiting the store with his daughter.

"I saw the Barn Swallows in the field next to the Value Village and then swoop up and land near the awning close to the front door," said Minor, who is also a biologist.


Barn Swallow populations in the Hamilton area have seen a significant decline in recent years. (JJ Cadiz/Wikipedia Commons)

Minor says he saw two adult birds flying towards the mud nest, measuring between six to eight centimetres in diameter.

"It looks like a really well-constructed nest. It’s really interesting to watch," Minor added.

Barn Swallows are medium-sized songbirds, known for their distinctive rusty-red foreheads and long, forked tails. The month of June is peak mating season for the swallows, who usually lay an average of two to fours eggs.

Population in decline

The species are not uncommon in the Hamilton area, but populations have seen a significant decline in recent years.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, nearly 65 per cent of the Barn Swallow population has been wiped out since the late 1960s.

The reason for the decline is not exactly known, but researchers cite a lack of rural habitats and the widespread use of pesticides as potential causes for the steep decline.

Christine Durepos, front-end supervisor at Waterdown's Value Village, says the store has no intention of taking down the nest.

"The birds are still nesting in there, so we are not going to remove them or disturb them in any way," she said.

"We are going to keep an eye on the them. They are pretty high up there, so they’re pretty safe. We will remove the nest once there birds are done there," she added.