Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)

This hole - just above the center of the photo - is in a cliff overlooking the lake about one-half way along segment 13 in Fort Yargo State Park. It’s been there for years.

A closer view of the hole.

A close up of the hole a couple of years ago. I’m not sure when the cliff below it collapsed.

It was tempting to assume it was a birds’ nest but, although I’ve rowed past it regularly for about 9 years, I had never seen any activity. Until this year…

In mid April - it was a Monday - I was the only one on the trail. I was walking quietly looking for dragonflies or butterflies. And there, perched on a branch of a recently felled tree, was this Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia). There were two of them. I guessed it was a pair. This bird stayed perched in the same place. The other came and went. I hadn’t seen any activity since so I didn’t know if they settled on this site or moved on.

Until last Sunday morning. First day back on the lake. I was rowing down the lake on the east side (segment 8) when I saw two brown and white birds flying north. The brown/white color combination is rare in birds around here. I watched them until I lost sight of them. It looked like they could be the Bank Swallows.

I continued on my way and came back along the west shore of the lake. I stopped at the cliff to take these photos of the hole. I heard an unfamiliar scolding – I’m used to being scolded by birds - behind me. I took my photos and as I rowed away, one of the swallows flew into the hole.

So… The good news is that this nest hole must have met approval and is being used. Bank Swallows are in residence and raising young at the lake.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- The Cornell Institute of Ornithology - All About Birds: Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)


Out walking the dog said...

What a cool discovery.

JSK said...

Yes. Thank you. It was. I had heard of cliff swallows but had never even heard of bank swallows. And I love the color combination. So it was great on two counts.

Joy K. said...

There is just something fascinating about a hole in a creekbank, with or without swallows.

JSK said...

Yes, there is. Since I never saw any bird activity, I thought that it might be vulnerable to visits by snakes. I am glad that it's being used. The reason I probably never saw any activity is that the swallow flies straight into the entrance. Unless you actually see the landing, you'd never know the nest was being used.