Swallow Tales – Part 1

Here in northern Indiana we have two types of swallows, Barn Swallows and Tree Swallows. Both are here only in the summertime. They are thin birds with short beaks, wide heads and long wings. They feed in flight, catching insects and sometimes even water droplets in the air as they fly around. Neither will come to seed feeders.

The two varieties look very similar in flight except for their tails. They both have a forked tail, but the Tree Swallow’s tail looks more like a shallow letter U where the Barn Swallow’s tail is a deeply cut letter V! Otherwise they fly and swoop for bugs similarly.

Although I’m sure there are many other similarities between the two I haven’t mentioned, there are differences too. First, in the way they look.

This is a Tree Swallow:

Note the very white belly and blackish-blue (sometimes iridescent) wings.

This is a Barn Swallow:

Note the rust-colored belly, dark orange chin, and blue-ish wings (this picture doesn’t do its wings justice, they are often as bright as a bluebird’s!)

The two swallow varieties’ nesting habits are also quite different. Tree swallows nest in cavities and nest boxes, similar to bluebirds. Barn swallows build mud nests attached to (usually) wood. They are very popular in barns (hence the name) where there are plenty of open beams and raw wood upon which they can build their nests.

We’ve got no barns or open beams here but we have had barn swallows nearly every year since we’ve moved in! They have a safe location they love, and we in turn love having them!

We spotted our very first barn swallows of the year just yesterday flying around the neighborhood. They haven’t begun any nest building activities at all, but today they dropped by to say hello and we expect they’re here to stay as usual! Please say hello to Nell and Zel!

We hope you’ll follow along with our Swallow Tales. This won’t be a daily blog, at least until things get rolling. But we’ll be back every few days with more information and updates. Thanks for reading!

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