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July 16, 2011 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Barn Swallow Nestlings

The Barn Swallow is a common bird across most of North America in the summer. They are migratory and spend the winters in the southern hemisphere. Originally they nested in caves but now their nests are found almost exclusively on man-made structures.

There is a picnic pavilion in a park where I go for walks that is home to a family of barn swallows. Their nest is made of mud and grass which they place on a vertical wall high up in the rafters. Both the male and female build the nest and incubate the eggs.

Barn Swallow Nestlings

These nestlings are a few days away from fledging and leaving their nest. They are waiting for a food delivery. I thought they looked a little grumpy!

The parents will dive bomb your head if you try to sit down and watch them feed the nestlings. After they chattered and swooped at me several times, I moved behind one of the pavilion posts and hid there until they either forgot about me or assumed I was harmless.

Barn Swallow Nestlings

Barn Swallows eat insects and like to nest in areas where bugs are plentiful. They are aerial foragers and will catch insects such as crickets, dragonflies, beetles, and moths in flight.

Barn Swallow

One of the adults landed on the pavement just outside the pavilion and gave me a look of resignation as if to say, “I guess she’s not leaving without photos”.

I think this is the female. Both male and female have a long forked tail and iridescent blue upperparts. The female has mostly white underparts while the male has a rich orange coloring.


For more bird photos check out my previous Weekend Birding posts.

I link up my bird photos on Saturday Snapshot hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.


Leave a Comment
  1. Cathy / Jul 16 2011 1:56 am

    I love barn swallows– and I love your photos!


  2. Louise / Jul 16 2011 3:04 am

    I love your weekend birding posts. Swallows are so tricky to photograph too- well done! How wonderful to see the nest.


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 11:48 am

      They are fast and acrobatic flyers. They don’t stay still for long. Good thing they are fun to watch… it took me over an hour to get these shots.


  3. Trish / Jul 16 2011 5:07 am

    Great pictures! It’s funny how they all look a little grumpy peeking over the side of their nest.


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:05 pm

      I think I was delaying their food delivery. Until I moved behind a post the parents stopped feeding and dived at me instead!


  4. laurelrainsnow / Jul 16 2011 6:36 am

    Wow! Those are amazing shots, and it’s fascinating how they create their nests in anything available.



    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:07 pm

      I’m always amazed at how versatile nature can be.


  5. Kay / Jul 16 2011 6:57 am

    Amazing shots! They do look a little grumpy, even the one in the pin-up girl shot! LOL


  6. BermudaOnion / Jul 16 2011 7:11 am

    They do look rather grumpy! We need some barn swallows around here to eat the insects. I love your bird photos!


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 11:57 am

      They are fun to watch catching the bugs while they fly.


  7. kaye / Jul 16 2011 7:20 am

    Those are incredible photos! Looks like that nest is getting a little crowded.


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 11:52 am

      They were big… just days away from leaving the nest.


  8. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Jul 16 2011 8:08 am

    Another fantastic capture. They are so cute.


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:08 pm

      Thanks. The babies are always so much fun to watch.


  9. Paulita / Jul 16 2011 8:33 am

    More amazing bird photos. They seem like little people staring out from their nest.


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 11:56 am

      They were watching for their parents to bring more bugs so they could be first with their beak open!


  10. dixie / Jul 16 2011 8:55 am

    I have been dive bombed by barn swallows. It’s a bit unnerving. I love that first photo! They definitely look grumpy!


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 11:53 am

      When I went back a few days later to get photos of them leaving the nest I wore a hat!


  11. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jul 16 2011 10:05 am

    These are great pics1 I love the mommy feeding her babies!


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:09 pm

      Birds are awesome parents. The dad will bring food too. He helps out… how great is that!


  12. emmac6 / Jul 16 2011 10:07 am

    I love birding and enjoy very much your blog and your gorgeous pictures. Last Sat, for the 1st time, I saw rough winged swallows. I knew they had to be swallows, but had to check in my book. here is a google image link to see them, in case you are not familiar with them. I saw them in Kettle Moraine Park, in McHenry, IL:
    Emma @ Words And Peace


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:00 pm

      That’s a bird I don’t have any photos of … yet!


  13. Jennifer O. / Jul 16 2011 10:23 am

    Awesome photos. I’ve never seen such an up close pic of them before:)


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:10 pm

      I stood on the picnic table under the nest to grab that first shot. Probably dangerous, I know!


  14. carol / Jul 16 2011 11:10 am

    Great photos. Not easy to get I am sure.

    Thanks for sharing.



    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:02 pm

      Patience and a steady hand. I stopped at the park after work and spent over an hour watching and shooting. Needless to say I didn’t cook dinner that night!


  15. Alyce / Jul 16 2011 11:43 am

    Barn swallows are so pretty! My parents have a nest over where they normally park their car, so springtime involves a lot of washing their car. 🙂


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:04 pm

      Oh I can just imagine! Barn Swallow nestlings don’t mess up their nests. They hang their bottoms over the side of the nest and poop on whatever is below!


      • Marie Thatcher / May 5 2013 3:34 pm

        I know wat you mean!LOL I have a nest up in the eaves of my home & look forward to their return every spring. They are loud but I love it! Just wish I could understand all the racket they make! Their little faces with the big smile their mouths make, oh I just love ’em! Thanks for sharing the pics!!


  16. Rebecca Rasmussen / Jul 16 2011 11:45 am

    Oh leslie, these are absolutely gorgeous…what a lovely picture to wake up to this morning 🙂


    • Leslie / Jul 16 2011 12:04 pm

      Thanks… glad you enjoy them.


  17. Bev@My Reader's Block / Jul 16 2011 1:34 pm

    I love these pictures! Especially the first one with the whole family looking out. They look a bit grumpy (like maybe they’re all hungry and wondering where the food is).

    Here’s mine: Here’s mine:


  18. Vicki / Jul 16 2011 2:07 pm

    What amazing photos!! I love photos of birds!

    Here’s My Snapshot


  19. Debbie Rodgers / Jul 17 2011 1:32 pm

    Your photos are consistently amazing. Thanks so much for sharing them.


  20. Marie / Jul 17 2011 4:29 pm

    These are awesome! I love them. Those birds do look grumpy. Maybe Mom was gone too long. 😉


  21. Veens / Jul 17 2011 8:56 pm

    I really like your pics of the birds, but my fav has to be the last one 🙂 What a pose 🙂


  22. Harry Nicholson / Jul 18 2011 3:32 am

    These are a lovely sequence. They look similar to the European swallow I see flying around this house on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors.
    The pictures remind me of a scene I wrote for ‘Tom Fleck’. He comes home with a bundle of firewood (in 1513) and:

    ‘Tom reached the middle of the byre’s front and pushed against the planks of the only door. The cracked leather hinges groaned. He stooped beneath the lintel with his load of firewood and ducked as a cluster of fledgling swallows flew to the opening. They fluttered around his head, then darted into the open air. Their parents swooped chortling from the byre’s sagging ridge in greeting. Once inside he turned to the right and set down his burden. The cattle followed, but turned to the left.’

    It is good to have wild things living with us. Last winter’s gales have lifted some roof tiles and now we, and our neighbours, have sparrows and starlings raising chicks beneath our roofs. At some point. when all this has stopped, I will need to do repairs.

    You have a blog worth returning to.



  23. kaye / Jul 18 2011 11:02 am

    fantastic shots!, thanks so much for stopping by.


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