Preening Cliff Swallow and a short video of the flock

Preening Cliff SwallowPreening Cliff Swallow – Nikon D810, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The Cliff Swallows at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge are busy catching bugs and building nests but they do take time out to preen and fluff like this one did yesterday. There are thousands of Cliff Swallows at the refuge and they can be seen flying over the marshes catching bugs in the air and I am always grateful when they gobble up the mosquitoes. I really don’t like biting bugs.

The swallow in the image above was preening when I photographed it and its tail is actually twisted because it was getting oil from the uropygial gland or preening gland. Its perch is a winter worn, sun-dried phragmites stalk, new growth of the phrags can be seen  in the background.

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I took a short cell phone video of the flock of Cliff Swallows in flight over a section of the Bear River that I thought I would also share. The Promontory Mountain Range can be seen in the background.

Bear River National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite places in northern Utah for the birds, the wildlife and the great views.

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover May 13, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    The first time I saw Cliff Swallows was at the Grand Canyon. I was fascinated by their quick jet-like flight and appreciate the short sample you posted. Birds are amazing!

  2. Elephant's Child May 12, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Thank you.
    Even that short video brought peace into my heart. The sounds mostly… Just magical.

  3. Patty Chadwick May 12, 2015 at 8:36 am

    There must have been a lot of mosquitos or flies of some kind to attract a flock like that. Pretty darned amazing how far and wide phragmites can be found, especially considering that they aren’t a native species!!!

  4. Wally May 12, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Mia, terrific photograph! I seldom see a perched swallow. Wow! These guys are really beautiful! Loved the video. I see why you love that area – it’s gorgeous!

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