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Cliff Swallows of the Ice Age-Carved Channel Lakes, Eastern Washington State

Authors: Stephen Tsikalas*, Eastern Washington University, Cody McPherson, Eastern Washington University
Topics: Geomorphology, Biogeography, Animal Geographies
Keywords: zoogeomorphology, cliff swallows, wildlife refuge, avian
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


For several thousand years, Ice Age Missoula Floods carved out the Channeled Scablands of Central and Eastern Washington State. This historical flooding lead towards the development of numerous channeled lakes throughout the region. While others have published much on the landscape history and physiography, little work has addressed the cliff swallow, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota, populations that colonize the peripheral cliffs of these lakes. Cliff swallows, too, are of much academic interest for a variety of reasons: their colonial behavior and fashioning of unique mud-nests drawing most of the attention. Taking a new spin on thee nesting habits of cliff swallows, we address the direct and indirect conservation efforts employed to protect these colonies in a sample of public lands (State and Federal) in Eastern Washington. We also consider the geomorphic agency of the swallows, estimating annual sediment transport to nesting sites, the implication of which lends itself to better understanding energy used in nest construction.

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