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Federal Law Protects Nesting Cliff Swallows

Have you noticed lots of little birds nesting along sides of buildings and under overpasses? Well if you’re thinking about chasing them off --- think again, because if they’re cliff swallows -- it's a crime.
MIDLAND, TX (Local Big 2 News) -- Have you noticed lots of little birds nesting along sides of buildings and under overpasses? Well if you’re thinking about chasing them off --- think again, because if they’re cliff swallows -- it's a crime.

Naturalists say cliff swallows are protected by federal law. The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to harm the birds or interfere with their migration.

The cliff swallows nest and breed in Permian Basin and across North America. Then, they’ll fly south for the winter. Naturalists say they’ll depart for Central and South America in September or October.

And while some may find the birds a nuisance, scientists say they are very beneficial to our area.

"They eat a tremendous numbers of insects, primarily flying insects, like mosquitoes and termites,” explained Michael Nickell, the Naturalist and Scientist of the Sibley Nature Center in Midland. “Of course mosquitoes and termites, when you think about it, actually do a lot more damage than the swallows do."

Scientists say you can tell these are cliff swallows because of their square tail, dark throat and creamy colored forehead.

And as their name indicates, cliff swallows do not nest in trees -- they cling to overpasses and buildings because it's like their natural cliff habitats.

If you're caught harming the birds or interfering with their nesting, scientists say you could face stiff fines or even possibly jail time.

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