If nature interests you, you should be concerned for the fate of the large Cliff Swallow (CLSW) colony that nests under the current Argyle St. bridge. The old bridge will be destroyed, and the new bridge installed in ’23. Swallows build mud nests on concrete, but can’t build on steel, which is what the new bridge construction is. I’ve researched this issue, and there is a study published in the Arkansas Journal of Science from Henderson University, that examined the effects of bridge design on Cliff Swallow nesting success, and it’s unequivocal; they don’t nest-build on steel.
The Ministry of Transportation Ontario’s (MTO) bridge replacement team is aware of this colony. The MTO’s own assessment report states, “the colony is possibly the largest in S. Ontario.” but they’re not doing anything to preserve it. Ontario’s own “Significant Wildlife Habitat Guide” (SWHG) states “that any colony of more than 8 nests is considered significant and must be protected.” During the MTO’s feasibility study, they surveyed CLSW nests on the bridge and found 65!
It’s not like they’re disregarding nature; the MTO is spending $2 million on a Mussel Relocation program. The mussels will have a river to come back to when the bridge is finished; the same can’t be said for the swallows. I’ve been petitioning politicians and provincial and federal agencies to make them aware, from the premiers, down to local Haldimand officials.
I’ve been posting about this issue regularly on local webpages like Hamilton Birds and HSA Nature notes, and will do so in the future. I’ve written an article that’s been printed in the Hamilton Naturalist Club newsletter, “The Wood Duck” in the Oct./20 issue. As a result of my webpage postings, I’ve been contacted by a couple of wildlife biologists in the Hamilton area, and they’ve provided two important resources.
Insight into the provincial and federal wildlife regulations that are being disregarded, and, contacts with various government agencies, the most productive being the Canadian Wildlife Service. (CWS)
The most productive contact so far is the CWS. The CWS has contacted the MTO about the threat to this colony, and is pressing for design changes. Mike Street, former long-serving Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch president is a retired Hydro One engineer, and Mike has provided a list of coatings to make the steel more usable for the swallow nests. This info has been forwarded to the CWS. They are not interested solely in this project, but others in the future.
I’m not saying the bridge shouldn’t be replaced, I’m saying we could do it in a way that doesn’t harm wildlife. If we’re such an intelligent, creative species, we should be able to do both. This has already happened with the new Cayuga bridge; I don’t want to see it happen again, but it’s not too late! The bridge tendering process hasn’t started, so design changes can still be made.
If you’re interested in adding your voice, please sign this petition.
For the link to the petition form please go to
We will send the completed petition to the MTO’s bridge replacement team along with politicians and provincial and federal agencies, from the premiers, down to local Haldimand officials. Included below is the contact information for the only responsive person from the MTO bridge replacement team. If you’d like contact information for the remainder of all the folks that George has been in touch with please contact Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graydon Botsford (email@example.com)