When I went to turn off the lawn sprinkler late yesterday afternoon, I discovered a flock of about 20 Barn Swallows foraging over the lawn in the front yard, chattering away in their Swallow language. They seemed oblivious to my presence and continued to course back and forth about 10-20 feet off the ground. Perhaps the sprinkler had scared up some bugs.
A couple of juvenile Swallows perched on the power lines and insisted on being fed by any passing adult. There was some acrobatic flying going on as adults hover-stopped in front of a juvenile to drop a morsel of food in its wide gape, but a lot of it was too fast for my slow trigger finger.
The long period of dependency on parents for food is about to come to an end, as swallows, along with many other bird species, are flocking up and fattening up in preparation for migration to their winter home.
This amazing little bird is one of the most widespread bird species in the world, breeding in all continents of the northern hemisphere from sea level up to 9,000 feet and wintering in all continents of the southern hemisphere primarily in savanna or grassland habitats. Individuals tend to return to the same wintering spots, forming huge roosting flocks in a specific locale. One wintering site in Nigeria had more than a million swallows roosting there. Large roosting groups might be good protection from predation, as their numbers would far exceed the appetites of the local avian predators (e.g., falcons).