Swallows on Parade

I had caught about a minute’s worth of little dark masses rapidly swarming about the sky in my peripheral before finally looking out the window to see what was going on. There was a substantial number of barn swallows on parade.

Hark! Dost this swarming of aerial emissaries warn us of a menace that lurks in our midst?

If so, then I had better run outside with my camera and find out what it is!

I slowly opened the door to the side of the yard expecting to see something like a cat or a fox. I didn’t see anything but the sky parade. I bravely made my way down the stairs to peek around the corner, preparing myself to be startled by something that probably shouldn’t be in our yard. Nothing.

I started snapping away at the impressive swarm of birds. Unfortunately, my photos turned out not to be so impressive; I wish I could have better captured the density in the activity.

swallow swarms 1

As I moved towards the center of the yard, members of the group cut through the air of my personal space. I will admit that maybe, just for a moment, I entertained the thought that it was all a ruse; a way to get me outside and finish me off because they really seem to dislike my being outside, even if I’m just sitting quietly nowhere near their nests.

I stopped snapping photos around the time the group dispersed and promptly started my Google searches on swarms of swallows to find out what may have caused it. I learned two things:

  1. There are indeed plenty of better pictures of bird swarms. Much better.*
  2. Swallows eat “on the wing” or while they are in flight.

swallow swarms 2

Ah ha! That had to be the reason why so many seemed to just congregate in a small air space with no noticeable threats. Perhaps word spread amongst the locals that the air was extra thick with nibbles. I think it’s the kind of thing that makes complete sense now that I know about it; it just hadn’t occurred to me before.

They often swoop incredibly close to me as I mow the lawn which originally scared me. I always assumed that they did not like my being in the vicinity of their nests and that it was a matter of time before I’d take a swallow claw to the eye. I realize now that it could very well have just been convenient for them to swing by for snacks as I stirred up the insects from the grass. Or both.

Joel and I often remark about how surprised we are by the very low to no bug activity around us when we sit on the deck. I didn’t realize that we likely have the area barn swallows to thank for that.

I love a parade!

*Put to shame, big time shame, by this this swarm of grackles and blackbirds caught on video: Megaflock by Steve Gifford

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