Last week while at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge I saw my first of the year Cliff Swallows while on the north side of the auto tour route. More of the swallows will migrate to the refuge very soon and the Cliff Swallow nesting season will start.
I find it fascinating to watch the Cliff Swallows gathering mud pellets from puddles and the banks of the river and water impoundments at the refuge. I’ve read where it takes 4000 trips each for the male and female to gather enough mud for their nests. That is a lot of trips with a bill filled with mud. Quite often these very social birds will make synchronized trips to gather mud for their nests for their one brood.
There will be Cliff Swallows by the thousands & thousands at the refuge soon eating midges and mosquitoes (bless them, I despise mosquitoes), perched on top of phragmites and rushes and calling out noisy alarms when they are disturbed.
I’ve photographed some of the Cliff Swallow nests at the refuge but wanted to share this photo of Cliff Swallow nests built in an old barn in Glacier County, Montana because I was able to get close enough to show the individual mud pellets that form the nests and the old wood was more pleasing to my eye than some of the nests I have photographed at the refuge.
For the people from Utah who read my blog I thought this information about Cliff Swallows from Birds of North America Online was interesting:
The Cliff Swallow was one of the first North American birds to be described. Although its discovery in Colorado is usually credited to Thomas Say on Stephen Long’s expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 1820 (James 1823), the bird and its colonial breeding habits were first mentioned by the Spaniard Silvestre Velez de Escalante in September 1776 when he encountered large numbers in the Wasatch Range of Utah (Coues 1899).
Life is good. Birds enhance my life.
The first three images were taken at Bear River MBR from 2009 through 2015