[ from Monday July 3, 2000 ]

Firecrackers on the Beach -- Threat to Bank Swallows?

On Sunday, there seemed to be almost no bank swallows at their main colony site. Ordinarily, there would be several dozen flitting around and zipping in and out of their burrows in the cliff.

On closer inspection, there was a large amount of debris from fireworks on the beach nearby -- between the main colony and the "Gunmount", as well as just north of the northernmost bank swallow burrows and signs near the Great Highway.

Fireworks are and have been known to be a danger to the birds. In the past, the swallows seem to have abandoned their site after such a scare. We don't know if that has happened here, but can't help wonder why so much time and money were put into fencing off ten acres far from the burrows, while known dangers such as firecrackers are not prevented. Also, in the northern area of the beach there are still fenceposts sitting right above the burrows, which have been a convenient spot from which kestrels can swoop in on bank swallow hatchlings. The Park Service claims to have installed chicken wire on these posts to keep these predators away, but it doesn't appear to have been done or maintained in several areas.

The National Park Service's credibility is eroded by the lack of attention to two known threats to the birds, while at the same time using unproven claims of a threat from dogs and hikers to discontinue recreational use of park lands.

- Michael B. Goldstein, Editor

UPDATE: There seemed to be more bank swallows on Monday, though fewer than average. And apparently the Park Service does plan to guard the site tonight, as it has in the past few years on the 4th itself.

To First Section of Fort Funston Forum