Monday, December 24, 2012

Barn Swallow

I took a few Barn Swallow photos this summer. The first is of a male along Cannon Lake near Faribault, Minnesota. The photo is somewhat serendipitous—I was standing there with my camera and the bird was perched on a nearby dock. So I took the photo. At the time, I did not notice the beak was full of nesting material—probably a mud pellet mixed with grass. (I also did not notice the spider web hanging from the right wingtip.) Both sexes build the nests, which may contain up to 1400 pellets (Brown and Brown 1999). The inside of the nest is often lined with grass, horsehair, feathers, and/or lichen.
The next photos were taken later in the summer at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The middle bird is probably a female, but, in any case, well-worn after a summer’s work. She patiently waited for Erika and me to pass, before returning to her nest. Although males help at the nest, females usually do most of the work. Nest building takes a week or two. These swallows will often use nests from previous years. Nest refurbishing only takes about a week. Some nests from Nebraska are reported to be up to 17-years old (Brown and Brown 1999)!

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