Bon Voyage

Photo: Wikimedia

I was working diligently at my kitchen table this afternoon and the tree swallows I thought had already departed for southern climes descended on our neighborhood. I watched them for a few minutes  as they demonstrated their excellent flying skills. Then I couldn’t stand it anymore and got up to get my camera.

At this time of year, tree swallows – Tachycineta bicolor – congregate in the thousands before taking the extraordinary leap of faith of migration. They spend their summers near water, and I believe some of them are using a neighbor’s purple martin nesting colony set-up. I watched last summer  as they brought their young to perch on our wires and learn the amazing moves they need to catch their insect meals on the wing.

And now they are “staging,” gathering before they fly down to Central America where they will spend the winter. Before they leave, though, they’re taking a short breather on some nearby wires. I always find it interesting how quiet their calls are, so soft and low key compared to the raucous flocks of starlings.

I stood outside for a while making pathetic attempts to capture the numbers of these birds in flight, but I – and the camera – are just too slow. They’re gone now, anyway.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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9 Responses to Bon Voyage

  1. Awww…sweet. Such beautiful birds. It is such an amazing thing to witness each year when the birds migrate like this.


  2. herbdoc says:

    What a pretty little bird! We never see them here; only one town over. It must be that they like the shore and pond.


  3. cj wright says:

    I read this post yesterday, dn, and found myself thinking about it as I fed the birds this morning. I was wishing that these beautiful birds would pass over my territory on their way to Central America. I miss the birds that winter elsewhere and am so happy to see them return at their appointed times. The ones that leave make me all the more grateful for those who are here all year ~ the cardinals, titmouses, doves and chickadees that are always regulars. Soon, the sparrows will return and it will get very, very busy again. Our feeders are clocks of sorts. It feels sort of like 11:00pm now, all quiet and easy, but the sparrows will bring a noisy dawn very soon as nature winds her clock again. Then I’ll start looking for all the others to return as spring revs up and the birdbaths are all aflutter again.


    • dirtynailz says:

      So you don’t have sparrows year round? We have house sparrows, which are considered nuisance birds by many, tree sparrows, chipping sparrows, and song sparrows, all year. Then we have our winter visitors, the white throated sparrows, some of which have already arrived. We also get white crowned sparrows now and then.


      • cj wright says:

        Not at my house. I know they’re around, though. In the autumn, a bunch of sparrows arrive and stay until March. I’m not sure what kind they are, but I get a huge kick out of them. They’re probably the kind that are considered a nuisance, but I love all the little critters. We also get a visit from the white-throated sparrows with the little yellow “eyebrows.”


  4. Andy Brown says:

    I’ve seen them as thick as gnats down at Napatree. I was surprised to see that the phoebes were still here. I’d have thought they’d have left by now, but I guess the bugs are still flying and maybe they don’t keep to as strict a schedule as the swallows.


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