Barn Swallow

Hey guys, welcome back! Today, the most common and widespread swallow species in the world; the barn swallow! A dark metallic blue above, and buff to rusty orange below (individuals in Europe have a white belly, but retain the orange colored throat), the barn swallow is a fast, agile bird that often flies only a few inches off the ground in search of flying insects. I always loved seeing these guys in summer flying around Central Park’s North Meadow baseball fields. Always thought it’d be cool to somehow strap a camera to them and watch their flight from their view.  Although coloration is similar to other swallows (like the cliff swallow), the barn swallow is the only one with the trademark long, deeply swallowed tail.

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Barn Swallow, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

Barn swallows are the first swallows I ever remember seeing. As a teenager I was fishing with my dad. We were at the marina at the Geneva State Park in Geneva, OH. There used to be a large building there that was an old restroom/bathhouse for the beach. And I remember seeing a swarm of what I thought was bats at the time flying all over the place. My dad told me they were swallows. I know that they were barn swallows because I remember seeing the deeply forked tail. Swallows do sometimes look like bats in flight, as they are almost constantly flying.

When I moved to St. Louis, it was July, and that’s peak swallow season. There were swarms all over Forest Park, occasionally with other swallow species, like tree swallows or purple martins, mixed in. I would walk to work when I worked at the zoo, and I’d have to go over a bridge. That’s where I’d see most of them. One day I looked over the bridge, and below me, on some sort of pipe that ran along the side of the bridge, I saw a bunch of barn swallows (including some juveniles) sitting there. It was really cool to see, as you don’t often get to see them perched, unless you happen to be near a nesting sight.

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Barn swallow gliding over the Lake, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

Photographing swallows is always a challenge because photographing a bird in flight (especially one as fast as a swallow that can change directions on a dime) is quite difficult. I was amazed at the clarity of the shot above, taken along with my friend Marieke in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. He’s barely above the surface of the water! If at first you don’t succeed as they say… And with that I think I’ll wrap it up for today. Next up, another warbler! Ol’ “butter butt” himself, the yellow-rumped warbler! See you all then!

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