Saturday, May 11, 2019

Barn Swallow - A Herald of Spring

Barn Swallow

According to legend, the barn swallow got its forked tail because it stole fire from the gods to bring to humans. An angry deity hurled a fireball at the swallow, burning away it’s middle tail feathers.

It has distinguished itself as the most familiar swallow in North America and the most widespread swallow in the world. It’s a welcome neighbor as it eats insects and often builds its mud nest under the eaves of man-made structures.

The barn swallow is identified by that deeply forked tail, a vermillion throat and forehead, blue upper parts and ochre underparts. It prefers to live near a river, lake or marsh where it can find its favorite food - bugs.

A supreme aviator, the barn swallow displays a spectacular array of acrobatics in order to eat, drink and bathe while still on the wing. It’s truly a free bird whose daring flight is both delightful and unpredictable.

The barn swallow is a devoted parent who fiercely defends its young with relentless dive bombing. Its other defense strategy involves a surprisingly symbiotic relationship with an intimidating raptor - the osprey.

Sometimes a barn swallow will intentionally make its home just below an osprey’s nest. The swallow makes alarm calls that alerts the osprey to intruders and in return the osprey protects the swallows from all predatory threats.

The barn swallow winters all the way down in Central and South America but the long distance migrant is usually one of our first arrivals. It’s a proven herald of spring, a sign of summer’s approach and a symbol of the resurgence of life.

He stole fire and brought it to humans

The world's most widespread swallow

Blue upperparts

A supreme aviator

One of our first arrivals

A devoted parent

A symbol of life

A truly free bird

A herald of spring

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