Barn Swallow hang-out

The Fall season is apparent now in the crisp, cool mornings and evenings we have had lately.  The sun rises later and sets earlier, and the birds have started to flock up in preparation for migration.  Barn Swallows always seem pretty gregarious — for birds, nesting together on any convenient man-made structure, but they stick even more closely together in their spring and fall migratory flocks.

barn swallow adults flock up before fall migration

Usually, swallows are hard to photograph as they swoop back and forth across the marsh land catching bugs.  I guess a mid-day rest was in order for these Barn Swallows, and they were carrying on a lively conversation, chirping vigorously with each other.  Males have rust-brown feathers on neck and abdomen; the breast and belly feathers of females are white under their rust-brown neck feathers.

The Barn Swallows are so used to humans walking up and down the boardwalk over this marsh at Wood Lake nature center, they hardly move in response to the traffic.  But just to make sure that two walkers behind me didn’t scare this particular bunch away, I asked them if they would pause for a moment in their rapid stroll that bounced the boardwalk up and down.  “Why?” asked one of the walkers.  “So I can take a photo”, I said — it being plainly obvious that I was carrying a huge camera bag and had out my long telephoto trained on the birds.

Even though it’s time to prepare for migration, some swallow parents are still feeding those chubby beggars from their second nesting of the summer.  I wrote about these birds just about exactly this time last year (see Feed me…still)

One lone juvenile perched, waiting to be fed, and provided some wonderful swallow poses for us.

baby barn swallow

This juvenile is fully feathered, but has a much shorter tail than the adults, and still bears the mouth markings of a chick — a yellow rimmed beak.

baby barn swallow

baby barn swallow

baby barn swallow

baby barn swallow

How close can I get?  Next spring, this little bird will molt new body feathers on its back and head that look blue-black instead of gray.

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