Barn swallows photo

It’s a delight to watch young barn swallows when they’re first learning to fly. Though initially awkward, they’re extremely quick learners: within a few days of fledging, they’re expert enough flyers to pluck their meals of insects from midair – and within a few weeks, they manage to fly all the way to Central or South America with their parents.

Barn swallows also very fast fliers: they’ve been clocked at 46 mph (74 km/hour).

I took this photo on an August afternoon in the village of Hartley Bay, when we were visiting on our boat. The young swallows were perched rather tippily on a power cable, seeming indecisive about what to do next, while their parents swooped by, landing occasionally to offer a tasty morsel or perhaps a nudge to get the youngsters moving.  By climbing onto our top deck I was able to get a “birds-eye view” of their antics. They seemed to having a conversation that went something like: “You go first!” “No, you!”

An hour or two later, they were fully airborne, with no looking back. And by now they must be enjoying the warm temperatures in the southern hemisphere. I woudn’t want their gruelling travel schedule, but it must be nice to have summer all year round!


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About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

3 responses »

  1. liammoriarty says:

    Very sweet! When I lived on Orcas Island, we had a pair that used the same nest for several years running, under an eave of our garage. The chicks sound like rusty hinges squeaking when Mom or Dad come back with food to cram in their little faces … 🙂

  2. Glad you liked them, Patti. I used to see barn swallows all the time when I lived in Victoria, and loved them – so it was a great treat to watch these little guys in Hartley Bay. The swallows that visit our home on Gabriola are a different species, Violet-green swallows, but their behaviour seems similar to Barn swallows. They’ve taken up residence in one of our birdhouses the past couple of summers and it’s been great to have them swooping around, keeping us mercifully free of mosquitoes.

  3. Patti Willis says:

    What sweet birds. We have some whipping around our barn every year.
    Thanks.

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