Call to save dying swallows in southwestern France

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The French bird protection association La Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) in Lot, southwest France, has launched a campaign to save swallows, after hundreds of people were found dead in because of bad weather.Residents of Lot, Midi-Pyrénées, Occitanie, reported that many swallows suffered from cold and rain and died of exhaustion after being soaked and frozen.

Stéphanie Plaga Lemanski, director of LPO Lot, said journal local The Dispatch: “A school in the department has counted nearly 50 dead swallows in its playground, and the town of Corn has found around twenty dead. It is a massacre; a sorry spectacle of corpses.

She explained that the deaths were likely caused by the unpredictable weather conditions, with “brutal cold” hitting the area, as well as sudden levels of high rainfall.

Ms Plaga Lemanski said: “As it was rather mild during the first three weeks of September, the swallows were not encouraged to migrate. Then one day after another it started to rain, the temperatures dropped 15 ° C, the bugs were rare so [the birds] struggled to find enough to eat, they are cold and lose energy which prevents them from flying.

The birds are then susceptible to hypothermia and starvation.

European swallows – often also called “barn swallows” – are small birds with blue backs, red throats, pale or white underparts, and long tails. They feed on flying insects.

They usually migrate to Africa in September, but sometimes leave it until October in warmer years. They return to Europe around April and breed in June. A healthy swallow can live up to 16 years.

Another bird specialist noticed that the swallows gathered in an unusual way in the lake of Bannac, between the Lot and the Aveyron, and were “blocked from their [normal] rain migration continues ”.

Now, locals are encouraged to help the swallows by capturing them – temporarily – and bringing them back inside for warmth.

Mrs Plaga Lemanski said: “When you see one… catch it, but be careful – they are fragile birds, and you have to handle them very carefully, using both hands and holding the wings, as if you were picking up a little kitten. “

The LPO then advises:

  • Put the bird or birds in a shoebox that has had holes drilled
  • Place a small hot water bottle or small bucket of lukewarm water at the bottom or back of the box, wrapped in a cloth, to heat the box
  • You can also place a bowl of water inside for them to drink.
  • Put a lid on the box – not airtight – so that the birds do not fly away
  • You can put more than one bird in a shoebox
  • Wait until they appear warm and happy before letting them out
  • If any of the birds have a metal ring on one of their legs, write down the details on the ring and report it to the LPO

Ms Plaga Lemanski added: “Do not hesitate to contact the LPO for advice or if the birds seem to need help from a care center.”

The Lot LPO can be contacted at [email protected] or on 05 65 22 28 12. You can call them to report weak or dead species of swallows, indicating the time and place.

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