WEST VALLEY CITY — West Valley City has a bird problem. Or at least, one of the city’s buildings has the problem. Hundreds of swallows are building nests at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.
“This started about 11 days ago,” said Kevin Conde with West Valley City Special Events. And in that short time span, the birds have built 205 nests. Conde has counted them.
The swallows return to San Juan Capistrano in California each year on their migration from Mexico and Central and South America. But this is the first time these cliff or mud swallows have built at the Cultural Celebration Center.
The center has the perfect set up. The swallows like to build nests in a protected spot, and in this case, they’re building under a roof overhang on the south side of the building. They also need a source of mud, which the birds are finding in a nearby canal. Since they started building their colony, it’s been a non-stop around the clock project.
“They'll dive down toward our Chinese gate, swoop around the gate and then come back up and start their process all over again,” Conde said.
Bird droppings are everywhere and the nests are being built directly above an outdoor walkway.
“We've cleaned the sidewalk off prior to two events that we've had and within 15 minutes it looks like it does now,” Conde said.
A spokesman at Tracy Aviary’s Science Conservation Department believes these swallows may have been displaced from another location and are quickly having to rebuild. Typically, swallow nests are built in April and eggs are produced in May.
It’s illegal to remove swallow nests while they’re still occupied, so West Valley will have to put up with their newest neighbors until they head back south for the winter. The nests can be removed then, but it’s likely the swallows will return and rebuild.
The Utah Cultural Celebration Center regularly puts on public activities highlighting arts and entertainment in celebration of the many cultures in the area. Conde joked that the swallows want to be a part of it as well.
“They came here where they can celebrate their culture," he said. "So we've fulfilled our mission."