Monday, June 04, 2007

Cliff Swallows

We are getting much needed rain today. The water in the river near the hospital has decreased to a trickle in spots. The original community was built here because of the ability to ford the river at this location. It is not surprising that this shallow section would be exposed so early in the season. I was walking on the bridge early last week and noticed large numbers of cliff swallows swooping above the water. Later in the week, I walked under the bridge to the middle of the river and found a large colony of nesting swallows.

It was very busy and noisy under the cement bridge as the birds flew in and out of their mud nests. The dark, high underside of the bridge tested the limits of my camera, but I did get a few shots that are not too fuzzy.

Our local paper featured an article about the decline of the swallow population in this area, particularly the barn and cliff swallows. Newer styled barns and bridges are not conducive to nesting for them. The next bridge down the river is a large steel structure with no good corners for nest building. New barns have less accessible openings. Add to that the general loss of habitat and insect control measures, and the birds are at risk.

I know very little about these swallows, and wonder if they use their nests for several years. I saw no nest building going on, even though there was plenty of mud in the shallow water. Some of the nests were semi-circular and others were fully enclosed with small openings.

This smallish muskrat was floating lazily in water below on this very warm day. Summer is here.

Here is another recent post about cliff swallows at The Egret Nest.


  1. Aren't their nests amazing? Liza Lee posted about them a few weeks ago.

    For being under a darkened bridge, Ruth, your photo are great and you even captured their little faces watching you.

    Glad you are having rain. We received a little over the weekend, too.

  2. Neat pictures of the swallows and their nests, Ruth. It's truly amazing what they can build one mouthful of mud at a time....

  3. I too appreciate the swallow photos, but especially like the fat muskrat just lazing along.

  4. What beautiful swallows Ruth. Those nests truly are amazing.

  5. Mary- I had not seen Liza Lee's post, but it is very good and I have linked to it. It is still raining here after 3 days and it is welcome.

    RuthieJ- Thanks. It would be neat to catch the nest building. They are all busy now with their babies.

    KGMom- What are pools of water for other than lazily floating in the sun. Right? ;-)

    Jayne- They are lovely to see in the sunlight too, but try as I did, it was impossible to get a still picture at the speed they were flying.

  6. Summer. A beautiful word. I think I've never fully appreciated swallows till this year. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I've slowed down and find their flashing and darting and dipping so miraculously 'alive'.

  7. Cathy, I love watching the swallows skim above the water. They are aerial artists.


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