Destruction of nests, birds at Salmon Arm foreshore described as horrifying

This bird box at the Salmon Arm Foreshore lies broken on May 14, 2021 after someone pulled the pole out of the ground and smashed the formerly occupied nest. It was one of more than 30 that have been wrecked. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)This bird box at the Salmon Arm Foreshore lies broken on May 14, 2021 after someone pulled the pole out of the ground and smashed the formerly occupied nest. It was one of more than 30 that have been wrecked. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
A bird box that was put back up by volunteers can be seen May 14, 2021 on the lower portion of the large pole with a nesting platform atop it at the Salmon Arm Foreshore.A bird box that was put back up by volunteers can be seen May 14, 2021 on the lower portion of the large pole with a nesting platform atop it at the Salmon Arm Foreshore.
A formerly occupied bird box at the Salmon Arm Foreshore lies broken and empty on May 14, 2021 after someone pulled the pole holding it out of the ground and smashed the box on the ground. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)A formerly occupied bird box at the Salmon Arm Foreshore lies broken and empty on May 14, 2021 after someone pulled the pole holding it out of the ground and smashed the box on the ground. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
An unsuspecting parent returns to a bird box on May 14, 2021, not aware someone has embarked on a path of destruction of nests. Eggs have been smashed and baby birds and even adult birds have been killed while more than 30 bird boxes have been wrecked at the Salmon Arm Foreshore, mainly over the past week. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)An unsuspecting parent returns to a bird box on May 14, 2021, not aware someone has embarked on a path of destruction of nests. Eggs have been smashed and baby birds and even adult birds have been killed while more than 30 bird boxes have been wrecked at the Salmon Arm Foreshore, mainly over the past week. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Dianne Wittner, a biologist and SABNES member, looks over the damage to yet another bird box at the Salmon Arm Foreshore on May 14, 2021. (Martha Wickett)Dianne Wittner, a biologist and SABNES member, looks over the damage to yet another bird box at the Salmon Arm Foreshore on May 14, 2021. (Martha Wickett)
This bird box at the Salmon Arm Foreshore lies broken on May 14, 2021 after someone pulled the pole out of the ground and smashed the formerly occupied nest. It was one of more than 30 that have been wrecked. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Some kind of war is being waged on what are, to many Shuswap residents, beloved and benign creatures.

Overnight on May 1, eight bird boxes at the Salmon Arm Foreshore Trail, the nesting homes of swallows, chickadees and bluebirds, were knocked down and destroyed.

On Monday, May 10, 14 more were smashed. As of the weekend of May 15, the total destruction rose to more than 30 of the carefully constructed and painted boxes. All but one were being used by nesting birds.

As the destruction escalated, so did the carnage.

Dianne Wittner, a biologist and member of the SABNES (Salmon Arm Bay Nature Enhancement Society) board and the Shuswap Naturalist Club, has, as club president Janet Aitken said, “put her heart and soul into creating the bird boxes along the foreshore trail, putting posts in the ground to mount the boxes, moving the poles when high water threatens, cleaning the boxes each year and celebrating the nesting success.”

On Friday, May 14, Wittner had the heartbreaking task of going up and down the trail, repairing and replacing boxes, sometimes as the frantic parents waited to get back inside the nests to tend to their now missing eggs and babies. On the weekend, more volunteers were out, making repairs.

“As breeding season progresses in earnest, the perpetrator is no longer targeting partially built nests; he (assuming it’s a he) is now destroying eggs and nestlings,” wrote Wittner in a post to the naturalist club. “Much to my horror, one broken box had a female swallow that had clearly been bludgeoned to death.”

Read more: Building a better birdhouse

Read more: New homes going up for Shuswap songbirds

Read more: Video – Handmade homes will help feather friends on foreshore

The bulk of the bird boxes were created in 2019 as a community project.

Many people contributed. At the Makerspace in the Salmon Arm Economic Development building, students from the Outdoor Learning program came to build the boxes after learning about birds. SABNES and naturalist club members volunteered and local businesses donated the use of a post-hole digger as well as paint and posts. BC Nature also contributed.

“It was a lot of work and very rewarding,” Wittner said.

At first it was thought the destruction was from vandals bored on a Saturday night.

Then, because it began just before the sign went up keeping dogs off the trail for two months while the birds are nesting, it was thought it could possibly be a dog owner angry because they can’t walk their dog at the foreshore.

Wittner added that most dog owners are respectful of the regulations. She noted the bird sanctuary is on Nature Trust land and is an ecologically sensitive area.

Police are are now involved and Fish and Wildlife have been notified.

Wittner described the week as devastating, full of horror and frustration.

If anyone would like to donate a bird box or provide information, you can email SABNES at janetaitken1@gmail.com.

Wittner said she doesn’t think everyone realizes how valuable swallows are.

“Swallows eat flying insects, primarily mosquitoes,” she said.

She also pointed out that scientific studies have shown the sound of songbirds is beneficial to the mental and physical well-being of humans, lowering blood pressure and other effects. She said studies have also shown that songbirds, which feed on insects, are crucial to the well-being of forests. Without them, bugs can rampage and the forests can die as fast as two years later.


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

birdsSalmon Arm

Just Posted

The City of Vernon is asking the Vernon Elks to come back with more information regarding their request for a financial or in-kind donation. (Google Maps)
Zero funding for Vernon Elks club

Once-in-100-years grant denied after back and forth with city for support

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Vernon’s historic Towne Cinema, opened at its current 30th Avenue location as a dance hall in 1929 and was converted to a movie theatre in 1938. (GoFundMe photo)
Let the show go on: $100,000 raised for Vernon Towne Cinema

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society plans on reopening of the historic cinema after Labour Day

(City of Vernon)
Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
No words to express collective grief: Vernon mayor on 215 buried at residential school

Vernon mayor pens letter to Okanagan Indian Band Chief and council

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read