Alter a structure (habitat for Barn Swallow)
The rules for altering a building or structure (e.g., a barn or bridge) that is habitat for Barn Swallow.
Effective July 1, 2013.
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This page does not reflect the current state of the law.
We will be updating this page based on changes made to O. Reg. 242/08 and O. Reg. 830/21 in December 2021.
To determine your legal obligations, consult the Endangered Species Act, 2007, O. Reg. 242/08 and O. Reg. 830/21.
Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects endangered or threatened species — animals and plants that are in decline and disappearing from the province.
A barn swallow is a bird that is a threatened species.
You need to follow certain rules if you want to repair, maintain, modify, replace or demolish a building or a structure that is the habitat for barn swallow. This only applies to the actual structure, not other areas of habitat.
This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:
- Endangered Species Act, 2007
- Ontario Regulation 242/08 (general)
- register the work and the affected species with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (before work begins)
- minimize the effects of your activity on barn swallow
- create and maintain new habitat for barn swallow
- report sightings of rare species (and update registration documentation, if needed)
- monitor the habitat you create and report on certain observations
- prepare and maintain records that relate to the activity and the habitat
How to register
Step 1: Download the Natural Resources Registration Guide
- print a copy or
- open the guide in a new window or tab
Step 2: Create a ONe-key ID and Natural Resources client profile
You need a ONe-key ID and a Natural Resources client profile to register online. ONe-key is a secure account that gives you online access to Ontario government programs and services.
Once you have a ONe-key ID, you will be asked to create either an individual or business profile for Natural Resources registrations. Create:
- a business profile to register business activities if you are a(n):
- non-profit organization
- government agency
- authorized representative registering activities on behalf of any of the above.
- an individual profile to register non-business activities
Open a new window or tab to:
If you already have a ONe-key ID:
- sign in to ONe-key
- confirm your Natural Resources profile
Open a new window or tab to:
Step 3: Register an activity
- select My Services from the main menu
- if you are an authorized representative, identify the business you are representing
- click on Create New Registration
- select Notice of Activity and Other Notices under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from the registry options
- select Barn Swallow – Activities in built structures that are habitat (s.23.5)
- register the activity
- submit the registration
Step 4: Receive confirmation
- receive an official Confirmation of Registration by email
- By law, the regulation requires you to keep contact information up-to-date should the Ministry need to contact you
- By law, the regulation requires you to submit requested documents within 14 days of a request from the Ministry using the contact information you provide
- keep a copy as proof of registration
- registration is free
If you need assistance to register your activity, please call
If you can't apply online:
- download the registration form and user guide
- print, complete and mail the form
- wait for confirmation
Minimize effects on barn swallow
- avoid anything that could harm the bird(s) if they are using the structure
- take steps to prevent the bird(s) from building nests or entering the structure during their active season, generally between May-August (e.g. install a tarp or netting)
Create new habitat
You must take certain steps to create habitat.
Install nest cups
You must replace any nests that you remove, damage or destroy with a nest cup.
Nest cups must be placed on:
- a suitable part of the existing structure not affected by the activity
- a different structure suitable for barn swallow nesting within 1 km
- a new structure created or modified to be suitable for barn swallow nesting within 1 km
Create a new building or structure
You must create additional habitat for the bird(s) if the existing structure is destroyed or no longer suitable for the bird(s).
- create new habitat by building at least 1 new structure or modifying an existing structure to suit the bird(s)
- build or modify a structure:
- within 1 km of the affected habitat and
- within 200 metres of an area that is accessible and suitable for foraging
- provide more habitat than what was removed
- provide suitable nesting conditions:
- horizontal ledges or rough vertical surfaces with a sheltered overhang
- areas where barn swallow can attach nests, away from predators and disturbances
- entry and exit points that allow the bird(s) to fly freely
- enough area to allow for space between nests
- be structurally sound and capable of providing long term habitat.
You must also maintain this habitat for 3 years after it is created.
You must complete the work on habitat either:
- before the next active season begins (if work started outside the active season) or
- before the active season begins, if work will be done during that active season
You remove a nest in January. Active season begins in May. You must complete all habitat work before May.
- monitor habitat 3 years after it is created during the active season to see if barn swallow are using it
- record the information you collect during monitoring, including:
- the number, description and location of new nests
- an estimate of the number of barn swallow using the building or structure
Report a sighting
If you see or encounter a barn swallow while you are monitoring, you must inform the Natural Heritage Information Centre — within 3 months of when monitoring ends that year.
Report a sighting of an endangered animal or plant to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful.
You must prepare and keep a record of your work — this is called a Barn Swallow Mitigation and Restoration Record.
The record must:
- describe the original building or structure
- what you’re doing to the building or structure
- provide the number, location and description of barn swallow nests (before you begin)
- provide the amount of suitable nesting area present (before you begin)
- list the steps you took to minimize effects on Barn Swallow
- describe what you did to create habitat (e.g. information on nest cups installed or structures created)
- include information collected during monitoring
You must prepare the record before work begins (with information on the existing structures and habitat). You need to regularly update the record.
You must keep your record for 2 years after monitoring ends — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources, if asked.
When you need a permit
You could still need a permit if activities destroy habitat surrounding a structure that is used by barn swallow.
To apply for a permit, contact a local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office.
Identify a species at risk
If you are unsure about a certain species — and would like help identifying or confirming what it is — you can see photos and get more information on the Endangered Species website.