Friday, July 3, 2015

Barn Swallow with Forktail

At the bridge separating the two Lyman Lakes on Carleton College’s campus, I photographed this Barn Swallow with an Eastern Forktail grasped between its mandibles.  Look closely at the damselfly’s blue tail tip—it has a black notch on the underside, a field mark of the forktail. Another swallow, which appeared to be the mate, perched on the same branch. I was standing on the bridge, and my guess was that the swallows were waiting for me to move before feeding the damselfly to their young under the bridge.

Although flying insects make up almost all of Barn Swallow diets (99.8%), Damselflies are actually not their preferred prey. Flies are their preferred prey (about 40%), along with beetles (15%), hymenoptera (13%) , with odonata coming in a distant third at 4%; other flying insects make up the remainder of their favored diet (Brown and Brown 1999).

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