Barn Swallow Nesting Season Has Begun

/, Barn Swallows, Birds, Davis County, Utah/Barn Swallow Nesting Season Has Begun

Barn Swallow with a bill full of mudBarn Swallow with a bill full of mud – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Barn Swallows have returned for the nesting season here in northern Utah and if they aren’t already building nests they will be constructing them very soon. I have been enjoying seeing the Barn Swallows again along the causeway to Antelope Island State Park, at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and while out driving around looking for other birds to photograph.

Barn Swallow use mud and grasses to form pellets which are used in the construction of their nests. They make hundreds of trips with mud in their bills to create their nests then the nests are lined with soft grasses and feathers before the eggs are laid. Each nest may have somewhere between 750 to 1,400 pellets and they often reuse old nests.

Barn Swallow at the edge of a puddleBarn Swallow at the edge of a puddle – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I photographed these Barn Swallows last year on Antelope Island State Park, I am not exactly sure where they build their nests there but the colony may nest under the bridge close to the island. They usually need a vertical structure like a wall or cliff in order to build their cup-shaped nests.

Barn Swallows lay 4 to 7 eggs which take 13 to 17 days to hatch and both parents incubate. Barn Swallows can have more than one clutch per year and there are times that the young from the first brood help out the adults by feeding the second brood.

The Barn Swallow in the photo above seemed to be taking a short rest from gathering nesting materials.

Barn Swallow photo bombBarn Swallow photo bomb – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Even though this photo isn’t perfect I wanted to include it because this swallow was photo bombed by another swallow and both of them have mud in their bills.

I haven’t photographed a Barn Swallow yet this year but hopefully it won’t be too long before I have the opportunity to do so.

Life is good.



  1. Elephants Child April 17, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    750 to 1,400 pellets??? I would be reusing an old nest too. Preferably one someone else had built.

  2. Utahbooklover April 17, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Diligent and beautiful little birds. Last year we were away for a long weekend and came back to swallow building a mud nest on our front porch! Luckily it hadn’t progressed too far, so it wasn’t, so it wasn’t too much trouble to hose it off. The Bear River refuge isn’t far from us and that’s where i like to see them.

  3. Antoinette von Grone April 17, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I love the educational part that you slip into your narrative just as much as the images.
    If you could reach more people in this country, maybe there would be a greater appreciation for birds and the environment in general, and not the most recent onslaught to curb protection in favor of big industry and money and against scientific knowledge.

  4. Laura Culley April 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Just beautiful. I had the delight of watching them build their nests in the eaves of the press room at Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway in California one weekend. I was so engrossed in watching their fascinating construction activities that I struggled to pay attention to the race cars I was SUPPOSED to be watching! That was back when birds were taking over my life and race cars were becoming far less interesting 🙂 Now, some 20-ish years later, I’m so very thankful that birds have decorated my life with joy, peace, and intellectual curiosity to learn more and more and more about them. JOY!

  5. Bob mcpherson April 17, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Beautiful images, Mia.

  6. Esther April 17, 2017 at 7:04 am

    Loved your commentary (and photos of course)!

  7. Patty Chadwick April 17, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Wonderful images!!! I forgot how tiny their bills are…they used to build their clever mud nests in our barn…also used horse hair…I loved their iridescent purple/blue backs and their swooping flight…they can sure eatca lot of flies!!! Like tye Darth Vader pose in the oast image…wonder if thecsaying, “Here’s mud in your eye” came from…

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