This week I have some images of Cliff swallows taken out by Cameron River. Swallows are fast and very difficult to photograph in my opinion, so the best chance I had of getting some shots was to find a place where they actually stopped and sat “still” if only for a moment.
Luckily, they like to nest underneath man made structures near water and there is a bridge over the River at a point where there is standing water so the bugs are plentiful. Good for the swallows, not so good for the photographer!
To capture these photos, I set my camera on a fixed point and waited for the birds to fly into the focus zone. I’m pretty happy with how these images turned out and hope to practice so that I can get better at capturing this wickedly agile birds in flight. And they have to be since they feed on insects from the air.
Cliff Swallows eat flying insects all year round, foraging during the day in groups of 2 to more than 1,000 birds. Their colony serves as a community communication centre that improves their reproductive success rates through information sharing. Parents make trips back and forth to feed nestlings: unsuccessful foragers follow their successful neighbours to food sources.
Cliff Swallows are the most colonial swallow in the world, regularly forming colonies of 200-1,000 nests, with a maximum of 3,700 nests in one Nebraska site. They preen, feed, drink, and bathe in groups, and they continue sticking together in large flocks during migration and on their wintering grounds.
Cliff Swallows spend the winter in grasslands, farmland, marshes, and the outskirts of towns in southern South America.
One interesting thing I learned about Cliff Swallows is that some swallows lay eggs in another swallow’s nest. Sometimes a swallow may lay eggs in its own nest and then carry one of its eggs in its bill and put it in another female’s nest.
The oldest recorded Cliff Swallow was a male, and at least 11 years, 10 months old when he was recaptured and re-released for scientific purposes in California in 2004. He had been banded in Nebraska in 1993.
That’s all for this week I hope you enjoyed your visit.