Barn Swallow stretching on a postBarn Swallow stretching on a post – Nikon D500, f9, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

When I wrote about the Tundra Swans I photographed on the 13th of February I forgot to mention something that I found when I stopped to answer the call of nature. Regular visitors to my blog will probably remember that in December I found a Great Horned Owl because of a nature break and that was pretty exciting, what I found 5 days ago certainly wasn’t as thrilling as that owl but it did get to me thinking more about spring and the birds that will soon migrate to and through Utah.

So, I’m guessing you all know it has to be a midge I found during my pee break because of the title of this post and you would be correct. It surprised me to see a live midge in the restroom where the auto tour route at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge begins (and ends), I had seen a low of 19°F that morning and it just seems a bit too early for midges to be emerging already but there it was, a midge wiggling on the floor of the restroom. Of course my mind went to all the birds that feed on the midges at the refuge that will soon be arriving including the five species of swallows that are seen there.

Perched Tree Swallow adult callingPerched Tree Swallow adult calling – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/200, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

During the winter I miss our swallows, I miss their noisy calls, watching the Cliff and Barn Swallows gathering mud to make their nests and seeing hundreds or even thousands of swallows perched while they preen and watching them catching all kinds of bugs on the wing.

eBird wallows Utah

I went to eBird and looked up the Bird Observations in Utah then scrolled down to the swallows to check out observations throughout the year and saw that Northern Rough-winged Swallows seem to be the first to usually appear in February, and of course the swallows will appear in southern Utah before they arrive here in northern Utah, Tree Swallows then Violet-green Swallows make their appearance next towards the end of February followed by Barn and Bank Swallows in March. I suppose I could dig deeper into the earliest reported sightings of our swallows here in northern Utah on eBird but I simply don’t have the time this morning.

Starting tomorrow according to Accuweather from tomorrow until the beginning of March we are in for normal winter temperatures, which is a switch from the mild winter we have had so far, and we might even get some snow tomorrow and Tuesday.

Cliff Swallow at mud puddleCliff Swallow at mud puddle – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/350, ISO 200, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

That one midge I saw in the restroom at Bear River MBR did cause me to wonder if the swallows will show up early this year in northern Utah or will the predicted cooler weather cause them arrive at their normal time. I don’t know and won’t know until I start to see them flying through the sky, I just know that I am looking forward to seeing the swallows again.

Life is good.



  1. Margot February 18, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Did you get a photo of the midge?

  2. Utahbooklover February 18, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    The perched Tree Swallow is a beautiful image. Love to watch diving flight patterns of swallows.
    Had to cut our weekend short to get home before the snow began falling. Made it home in time!

  3. Pepe Forte February 18, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Wow! Love the pics! As always the colors and detail you captured are incredible. I gotta admit, however, the barn swallow on the post is my fave. Thanks Mia.

  4. April Olson February 18, 2018 at 11:31 am

    While in Delta with the Snow Geese I got a mosquito bite. I was told the geese arrived 3 weeks earlier than usual, the residents were worried that they would move on before the festival this next weekend. The temperatures while I was there were around 50 degrees during the day but the morning I went out to photograph the birds my car said it was 14 degrees. Everything was covered glistening frost and the air was misty with cold. My hands stayed warm but my feet got very cold.

  5. Patty Chadwick February 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Second Image, of tree swallow on gnarly, old, stub of a weathered branched is absolutey gorgeous!!! A real prize winner!!!

  6. Wally February 18, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Super shots of swallows! How do you get them to actually perch on anything for you??

    Last week, I found a flock of Tree Swallows estimated to be in excess of 5,000 taking off at dawn from a nearby lake. They should be heading your way in another couple of weeks.

  7. Charles Karaian February 18, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I fly fish a lot. When lots of swallows are flying over the river, I know that an aquatic insect hatch is in progress. This usually means the fishing will be really good. When the swallows vanish, not a good sign for fishing. Thanks for the informative post.

  8. Tim Traver February 18, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Lovely study of swallows! Spring on the way (well kind-of in Vermont)!

  9. Bob mcpherson February 18, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Cool photos, Mia.

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