Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Barn Swallows

First of all these photos aren't the sharpest, but I think they'll show you part of what we experienced on last Sunday's walk mentioned in this post here.

We came across about a dozen of them resting on tree branches on the side of our walking path. Normally we observe them flying over the water, catching bugs out of the air or flying right next to the surface where they will pick up water bugs presumably, or maybe they are drinking. One even caught a downy feather in mid air, one that had been dropped and quickly caught again, no doubt using it to line a nest. They have never stayed around long enough for me to get a photo of them as they have always been on the wing. You can imagine my surprise when we saw several of them just sitting still for a change.

The Barn Swallow has a long forked tail making it easy to identify among the North American swallows. It measures 5-1/2 to 7 inches long with pointed wings. It has a very short beak, and is dark blue above with a dark rusty throat. The rest of the underparts are a buff or pale rust color.

There was a nest in the eaves of the gazebo with two young swallows peaking over the edge. We didn't realize at first that mama had perched nearby and flew off shortly after we turned up, so we quickly took our photos and left them in peace.

The nest is a cup of mud pellets lined with grass and feathers. Both male and female build the nest.
The female lays three to eight eggs that are spotted with reddish brown.

The eggs are incubated for 14 to 16 days, and the young will leave the nest in 18 to 23 days.

Two broods a season may be attempted and Barn Swallows will return to the same nest season after season. If you would like to hear how they sound and find out more about them, click here.
In the last picture you can see another nest - top right - that of a mud dauber which is a type of wasp. If you click here it will show you what they look like and also give you some information.

28 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Oh wow! Such a privilege to see. Thanks for sharing.

Out on the prairie said...

i came across a huge colony under a bridge a few weeks ago whenI was looking at a place to put in my kayak.They really let me know they didn't like intruders.

Andrew said...

Beautiful images Denise I love them.

imac said...

Cute babies in the nest my friend.

Janet said...

Such a pretty little bird-beautiful photographs lovely to see them up close for a change !

eileeninmd said...

Great series on the Barn swallows, Denise. I think they are so cute.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Those Barn Swallows are so pretty, Denise.. But-they can be pests. There's a big pavilion in Cades Cove where they have programs. The swallows have taken over that place --and it's a MESS... Don't know how much money Cades Cove has spent trying to get rid of them and to clean up after them.. They keep coming back.
Hugs,
Betsy

SandyCarlson said...

Wonderful photos. What joy!

(This post reminds me of one of the funniest moments of the Jimmy Stewart movie Mr. Hobbs Takes a vacation. Lovely!

gigihawaii said...

Maybe, the heat made them stay still for you. Lucky!

Tiggeriffic said...

I love these birds.. Last year I built a bunch of wood ledges for them and hung them high in trees. They come here every year and nest. They eat lots of bugs. I love it when I mow the grass, they are swooping all around eating the bugs..
Great pictures ~ glad they sat on the branches and posed for you..
Have a Blessed Tiggeriffic Day~! ta ta for now from Iowa:)

Cloudia said...

Good post!


Great title! Those Googling for 'Barn Swallows" will find you I bet :)




Aloha from Waikiki;


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Janie said...

Beautiful photos. I hope they have success with their brood.

Indrani said...

Captures beautiful enough for a magazine story.

diane b said...

Great capture of the swallows nesting. Birds are so hard to catch not flitting about.

Valerie said...

You are lucky to have swallows. I haven't seen one for years where I live. Swifts too seem to have disappeared yet there's plenty of insects for them to feed on. The world we live in ... it's worrying.

Craig said...

Swallows are remarkable aren't they? Lovely shots, thanks.

KaHolly said...

Wonderful post!! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Those people in Cades Cove, TN should find a way to embrace the swallows instead of trying to get rid of them!! Interesting that you mentioned seeing one with a feather in mid-air. I was just reading about swallows because I put out tree swallow boxes for the first time and had great success. I'm quite sure I remember the article I read told about how they 'play' with the feathers in mid-air - it's a form of entertainment for them!! ~karen

ascu75 aka Don said...

Nice day out , I like the wasp nest I like wasps

*Honest Abe said...

Cool photos...

Jane and Chris said...

Utterly adorable! Driving along our road we see them swooping around the car... it's a bit nerve wracking!
Jane x

Kathiesbirds said...

So..you get to be grandparents to barn swallows now? How lucky is that!

Debbie said...

wow....these are just great. in the second to last, his mouth looks like a heart, you should link that to random hearts!!

cuteness overload!!!!

i beati said...

I never tire of birds one of God's truest miracles

Margaret Cloud said...

Very pretty birds and I enjoyed seeing them and the baby's.

Misty Dawn said...

They congregate and have meetings on my telephone wires outside the house. Then, when meeting is adjourned, they head back to my pond for dinner.

Susan said...

Such gorgeous photos of the swallows - you did incredibly well, they're so quick!
Nice to read about them and their habits too :D)

Kay said...

We saw these swallows in the national parks in June and were absolutely captivated by them. I love your gorgeous photos!!!

Jean said...

Denise, Super post about Barn Swallows. The babes always look like they are mad.:)