June 22, 2009

Fascinating barn swallows at my house

Last spring, I blogged about a pair of barn swallows that nested outside my front door. Apparently, barn swallows are quite happy living at my farm because many more nests have appeared this season. These birds prefer living in small colonies, building nests in close proximity to one another. They work together in protecting those nests from predators and they also work in unison hunting for insects.

I'm fascinated by their nests, which are constructed from mud pellets and grass, carried bit by bit in their bills. This year, I chose to document one of the nests built in my carport. I watched for several days while the structure was painstakingly pieced together. I waited anxiously while the parents lovingly incubated the eggs. And I was delighted when I finally heard chirping. Mother and father were kept busy for several days feeding their hatchlings and today, all that remains is an empty nest.

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This is one of several barn swallow nests around my property. As you can see, nest building is a time consuming process for these birds. They sometimes have to travel several hundred yards to a stream bank or other source of mud.


Photos By Martha Stewart and Eliad Laskin