A Juvenile Barn Swallow at Bear River MBR

/, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Birds, Box Elder County, Utah/A Juvenile Barn Swallow at Bear River MBR

A juvenile Barn Swallow at Bear River MBRA juvenile Barn Swallow at Bear River MBR – Nikon D810, f9, 1/1250, ISO 1000, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Reports of swallows in Utah are trickling in and I have been expecting to see one any day now. Yesterday while traveling on the causeway leaving Antelope Island I saw my first of the year midge tornadoes  so I know the swallows will have food when they arrive. I love how swallows eat mosquitoes I just wish that I could train them to seek, destroy and eat the no-see-ums that will be biting us soon.

Last year in mid August I photographed a very cooperative juvenile Barn Swallow at Bear River MBR and realized I hadn’t posted any images of the bird or written about my encounter with it. The juvenile Barn Swallow are a bit duller and their tails are shorter than the adults are but otherwise they look much the same. I will say this, they are noisy little squawkers when they want to be fed!

Juvenile Barn Swallow begging to be fedJuvenile Barn Swallow begging to be fed – Nikon D810, f9, 1/1250, ISO 900, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This juvenile was very close to the edge of the auto tour route, so close that even at f9 and f8 I couldn’t get enough depth of field to go the whole bird sharply in focus. I loved how this juvenile would face the direction of the adults nearby which allowed me to get this head on shot of it with its bill gaping wide open.

Perched juvenile Barn SwallowPerched juvenile Barn Swallow – Nikon D810, f8, 1/800, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

When the adults left the immediate area the little Barn Swallow would calm down some and rest while it perched on the tip of a cattail.  I was able to take hundreds of images of this juvenile that day and I still have many more images of it that I would love to find time to process.

Juvenile Barn Swallow being fedJuvenile Barn Swallow being fed – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Every time the adults flew in to feed the juvenile some thing happened to prevent me from getting both birds sharp, in focus or getting great eye contact from both birds. I still like the behavior in this frame even though I didn’t have enough depth of field, can’t see the adult swallow’s eyes and the juvenile’s eye looks a little weird because the nictitating membrane is visible.

I should have taken off my TC when I first saw this juvenile since it was so close but I honestly didn’t expect it to stick around for hundreds of images and while I was photographing it I didn’t want to miss the action if the adult came in while I took the TC off. In hindsight I realize I could have made better choices.

Live and learn.

Life is good.



  1. Nancy Collins March 13, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Love Mia! Beautiful series!

  2. Patty Chadwick March 12, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    These are such graceful birds…I love thecway youvcaught the blue-black oil-slick iridescense on the back of the adult in the last frame…

  3. Elephant's Child March 12, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    WHAT a series. Thank you.

  4. M. Bruce March 12, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    To TC or not to TC is always a question, but considering your results I think you came out on top.

  5. Liz Cormack March 12, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Mia, you are your own worst critic. I think the photos are absolutely wonderful.

  6. Stephen Leonard March 12, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Great photos Mia, thanks for sharing them, I always look forward to your posts and blog

  7. Cindy March 12, 2016 at 8:55 am

    I agree with Liz. All we see is amazing beauty and wondering how you captured them and you say you could have done better. They are perfect Mia!! Stunning! Thank you MIa.

  8. Roger Burnard March 12, 2016 at 6:35 am

    VERY, VERY NICE…. ;-)))

  9. Bob McPherson March 12, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Beautiful images Mia.

Comments are closed.