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Swallows Nesting under Turnpike Bridge
updated: Apr 29, 2014, 8:25 AM

By Karen

This is the peak of nesting season for the swallows under that bridge -- the timing couldn't be worse! How did this get permitted for April/May?! They should postpone work until the young birds have fledged!


I called the City of SB about the Turnpike Bridge construction and my concern about the nesting swallows. The city referred me to CalTrans. I spoke to CalTrans Manager of Public Affairs (Collin Joans 805-549-3189). He tried to reassure me that their biologist wouldn't have approved the project if nesting was active at that site. Because the biologist may not have actually been at the site in the past several weeks when migrating swallows arrived, he said he would give the biologist an extra "heads up".

Thank you Ed Hat for keeping us informed.

Related Article

  • April 28, 2014: Cathedral Oaks Road Bridge Replacement

    Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

     COMMENT 514829P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 08:32 AM

    I haven't been under that bridge to verify, but it is possible the powers that be used preventative measures (like netting) to preclude the building of nests this season. Are there active nests under the bridge?


     COMMENT 514834 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 08:56 AM

    I like birds. We keep our bird feeder filled and enjoy the visitors. Bird photography is one of my favorite pastimes. But I am not going to cry if a couple swallows lose their nesting site. The construction work will probably upset a couple gophers too. Poor gophers.


     COMMENT 514837 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 09:11 AM

    The Swallows are smart and adaptable. They will be just fine.


     COMMENT 514838P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 09:12 AM

    It is illegal to disturb nesting birds, of any species. Gophers are on their own.


     COMMENT 514839P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 09:15 AM

    They paid a swallow consultant $750,000 and they said it was ok


     COMMENT 514840 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 09:21 AM

    It is not illegal to disturb nesting birds, it is illegal to disturb nesting migratory birds, which obviously the swallows are. I hope they took proactive measure to block off the area, otherwise they are in violation of serious federal law.
    To those who think these birds don't matter, I'd encourage you to give the matter a second look. All species are interconnected and when we do outright harm to one there is a ripple effect in the ecosystem that also harms us.


     COMMENT 514843 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 09:28 AM

    Hmm, maybe we shouldn't build bridges for them to nest under then 840.
    Who knows what outright harm our man made nesting sights are doing to migratory birds! making them all lazy?
    Stop all construction projects everywhere NOW!


     SMARTYPANTS agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 09:31 AM

    840 - thanks!


     COMMENT 514847 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 09:39 AM

    What about the homeless that live under the bridge? What are they going to do now?


     COMMENT 514853P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 10:01 AM

    Thank you for the heads-up, but why would the City of Santa Barbara have anything to do with the bridge in the county, Noleta?

    Are there actually swallows nesting under that very low bridge?

    (However, the city of SB is not particularly bird-conscious. They've been pruning the ficus along Milpas at the height of the crow nesting season.)


     COMMENT 514855 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 10:02 AM

    I'm surprised this new breed of bloviated environmentalists hasn't extend some protection for the gophers. However, we can all be grateful this bridge and it's natural ecosystem wasn't harmed by a yarnbomb. Now carry on complaining about children in tide pools.


     COMMENT 514859 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 10:09 AM

    If birds protected under the 'Migratory Bird treaty Act' are, in fact, nesting under the bridge, it is probable that they will be removed by permit under the "Special Purposes" section of the act.

    Government always gives itself an 'out.'


     COMMENT 514875 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 10:37 AM

    A couple of years ago I couldn't use my barbecue for months because starlings had built a nest directly above it and I didn't want to disturb them, but I really do think holding up bridge repair is going a bit far. Besides, shouldn't those swallows under the bridge be in Capistrano, where they belong?


     COMMENT 514876 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 10:41 AM

    The larger nesting area is on the Los Carneros overpass that is under contruction now. IMHO, that's the area that is impacting the Swallows the most.


     COMMENT 514878P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 10:52 AM

    Strange how all the anti-bird comments contain grammatical errors. Is that telling us something about people with educational deficiencies?


     COMMENT 514885 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 11:01 AM

    Solution; hand the swallows a map to your house and set out some mud for them. Enjoy


     COMMENT 514890 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 11:07 AM

    Who do you report migratory nesting bird crimes to? The State or Federal Fish and Wildlife people?

    As far as giving government agencies an out, I guess that is like the EIR for the County solar panels behind the jail saying that the project had no visual impacts.


     COMMENT 514892 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 11:10 AM

    Maybe, just further evidence those who bloviate about their love of Nature have a superiority complex?


     COMMENT 514899 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 11:22 AM

    The project had an EIR and I'm sure all the risks were taken into account. Like another poster mentioned, the laws tend to have "outs" when needed. And they should. Sometimes you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette. :)


     COMMENT 514936 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 01:20 PM

    847 Migrate?

    78P Gee - I wish I had your time to be so picky. Perhaps some people are just too busy to pay attention how they put down their thoughts. Sharing them may have first priority.

    Churchill could never spell - but he had a great mind.


     COMMENT 514953 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 02:18 PM

    Thank you to the poster for going to the trouble of making the phone calls to figure this out! That is good news, hopefully.


     COMMENT 514979P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 03:06 PM

    No Churchills involved here, that's for sure. When you're trying to communicate, shouldn't you pay some attention to it?


     COMMENT 514985 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 03:15 PM

    Timing the construction outside of the nesting season really is a win-win for workers and the swallows (they all can get their jobs done). Considering that these guys migrate from central America and the numbers that actually make it here to breed are reduced by the gauntlet of wind farms (bird blenders) and thermal solar power plants (solar flux fries many) not to mention the estimated 1-4 BILLION birds in the US killed by cats, I don't think it's too much to ask.

    Also, google Petaluma Cal Trans bridge project to see how well that project went for the swallows.


     COMMENT 514993 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 03:57 PM

    The city of SB just had the ficus trees on Milpas trimmed during peak nesting season. Who makes these crazy decisions?


     COMMENT 514997P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 04:14 PM

    I thank the OP for caring and hope that some information is found! Thank you for taking the time to make phone calls--I wish we were all as caring of our surroundings, homes, and environment.


     COMMENT 515003P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 04:26 PM

    As an architect, I had a project located near a creek, and one of the 'conditions of approval' (from the county) was to 'not disturb active swallow nests and/or wait until after August 15th' to work on the building. This is a pretty common situation and common conditions of approval.


     COMMENT 515029 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 05:30 PM

    I don't believe swallows are endangered or protected in any way, so why would there be an issue? Maybe I'm missing something.


     COMMENT 515034 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-29 05:39 PM

    Swallows, along with most birds are protected under Federal and State laws.

    Fed- migratory bird treaty act
    State- CDFG code 3503


     COMMENT 515121 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-30 07:45 AM

    P.S. to Rex of SB
    Starlings are not native birds, hence have no protected status. Feel free to BBQ them!


     COMMENT 515124 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-30 07:48 AM

    Do the swallows have a permit to disturb the creek bed and steal mud from it? Might impact the next steelhead run.

    Man built the bridge, man planted eucalyptus trees. Are the swallows and monarchs grateful? No they crap on your head.


     COMMENT 515130P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-30 08:07 AM

    Wow - talk about reverse logic.

    Birds and butterflies were here first. Their crap has never harmed the environment, unlike man's crap in far larger volumes - e.g. by factors of thousands.

    Before man was here, there were birds and butterflies who did not need man's help. They don't need the bridges and the eucs, but use them because they are there.

    In fact, all those who repeat the mantra, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, should love wildlife because wildlife existed long before man without any help or handouts, and will continue to exist independently as long as man does not destroy their homes and sources of food.


     COMMENT 515191 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-30 09:48 AM

    @121: Nooooo! Even though I have no great love for birds (feathered rats for the most part), in the spirit of "mi casa es su casa," I felt that the starlings that took up residency on the balcony directly above my BBQ had a right to stay there. Roasting them was out of the question.


     COMMENT 515192 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-30 09:48 AM

    Don't worry, our time here is limited. The few animals that we leave will rebound in time and go back to their Darwinian existence without any human intervention.

    I bet they can't wait!


     COMMENT 515269P agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-04-30 01:57 PM

    Good news: I went and looked and currently there is not an active swallow nest colony there. But here are the facts of California State Code 3503: "It is unlawful to take, possess, or needlessly destroy the nest or eggs of ANY wild bird..." (not just migratory birds). Here is a clear factual online brochure from Audubon:


     COMMENT 515445 agree helpful negative off topic

    2014-05-01 07:05 AM

    Define needlessly.

    I bet being a nuisance is a need.


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