Monday, May 9, 2011

Barn Swallows

The first week of May, the daredevils of the sky return to Northwest Missouri, their antics enough to keep this wild woman content.

They swoop into the barn mow, dodge their avian fellows, and somehow avoid colliding. They build mud nests under the eaves, in the barn, garage, and patio. A bit of a mess, but what the heck. They pay me back with their intricate song, swirling flight around the dreaded cat, and catch mosquitoes. The last alone puts me on their side.

The sky is their playground. Their flight carves figure eights around a slow-moving tractor, snatching bugs the tires scare up.

One pair, maybe the same pair, always returns to nest under the porch. At first, the birds holler as we walk by but soon the swallows learn we are not a threat and sound the ‘all clear’ tweet instead.

It is spring. It is their time.


  1. Wonderful stuff Huntress. We too have regular nesting swallows in our front porch here in Tasmania. The last couple of winters the parents have stayed for the winter instead of heading to warmer climes.

    I had to build a screen door with a small gap at the top to let the swallows in and out, but keep out larger predatory birds. Every nesting season I have to catch the fledglings by hand and release them each day until they learn to navigate the gap.

    We have a pet sparrow who free flies indoors (and is the boss of the house). He often sits on the ledge above the front door each evening, up against a glass panel, on the other side of which are the swallows. They have a sing-song with each other. If you're a bird lover, got a spare 13 minutes and a good internet connection, here's a slideshow/video my wife put up on YouTube for the 3rd birthday of our boy Spoggy the Sparrow:

  2. They're so pretty. Thanks for the pictures. I'm a bird nut myself and we've been seeing a lot of robins and cardinals around here lately. Also a few mockingbirds, which have the most beautiful songs.

  3. Watching birds torment cats is almost as funny as watching people hurt themselves (i.e., America's Funniest Home Videos...that show still rocks. And Tom Bergeron is kind of sexy for an old guy...or not. whatever)

  4. @ Bethany
    Exactly my kind of humor. And Mr. Bergeron old?? ACK.
    Its the 'common' birds I like the best, the robins, finches and cardinals. But it is a thrill when an indigo bunting visits the feeder.
    EXCELLENT VIDEO!! I honestly didn't think it was possible to raise a bird that size. You have amazing patience.

    One caveat: The above pictures are not mine and I give all credit to the photographers.

  5. The last time I visited my grandparents' house in Minnesota, I watched a barn swallow teaching its youngsters how to fly figure eights around the yard. They had trouble timing the flip in the middle. :)

    That was a nice day. Thanks for reminding me.


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