Metrolinx opens up new swallow hotel at Lincolnville

Barn swallows, a threatened species in Ontario, have a shiny new spot for their nests this season at Lincolnville GO. Here, we open up the doors and allow you to fly in.

Prior to the start of construction of the new Lincolnville GO station and demolition activities, a few barn swallow nesting areas were found at the proposed station site.

Image shows a small bird.
A look at typical Barn swallows,. (Photo courtesy of Ontario.ca)

The birds build their cup shaped mud nests almost exclusively on human-made structures such as open barns, under bridges and in culverts. Therefore, Metrolinx made a commitment to complete all the demolition activities during the winter season, while these snowbirds spent the winter in Central and South America.

The species often nests in small loose colonies with multiple pairs nesting in close proximity and return year after year to the same area. These songbirds prefer open structures, and unpainted, rough cut wood to which their mud nests easily adhere.

Image shows a worker working on the bird hotel.
Building the hotel. (Metrolinx photo)

A newly built nesting house at Lincolnville GO fits the bill perfectly. It has multiple cells and ledges made of wood for the birds to build their nest and was ready to welcome barn swallows back from their migration at the start of nesting season. 

“The nesting house is permanent, and we don’t just build these and leave them,” says Laura Filice, environmental program manager at Metrolinx. “As part of our environmental commitments, Metrolinx will be monitoring the new structures twice a year for three years to track nesting success rates at the site.”

Image shows a large elm tree.
A 200-year old elm tree stands alongside the new site of Lincolnville GO station. (Metrolinx photo)

Lincolnville GO station is also home to a 200-year-old elm tree, which will be preserved on the site of the new station and protected throughout construction. Therefore, a protection fence has been installed surrounding the tree. The parameter of the fence is equivalent to the circumference of the crown of the tree to make sure construction equipment and activities are kept at a safe distance.

Image shows the bird hotel.
A look at the nesting house, with ledges and nooks to make room for multiple nesting pairs of barn swallows. (Metrolinx photo)

New Lincolnville GO Station

The new Lincolnville GO Station building will replace the temporary platforms within the adjacent layover facility, where Metrolinx stores and maintains GO trains, ultimately improving the customer experience. Three new train layover tracks – increasing from seven to 10 – will accommodate more trains and more service on the Stouffville line.

The new Lincolnville GO Station includes augmented safety for those accessing the station,673 parking spaces, an enhanced multi-use access for pedestrian and cyclists, a bus loop to connect GO Transit customers with local transit options and an accessible platform and barrier-free access to the parking and passenger pick-up and drop-off area. The station is now under construction, with an anticipated opening in late 2022 or 2023.

But for feathered travellers , the doors are wide open.

Story by Patricia Pytel, manager capital communications, GO Expansion