Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birds and Barns

Mud nests built by cliff swallows
(picture taken by my 12-year-old son)
Late last month while taking a beautiful evening walk at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, WA, we felt excited when we heard the cries of a particular bird we thought we recognized.  When we saw a bunch of birds flying around, and they had the distinctive silhouette of that type of bird, and when we saw the mud nests under the eaves of the nearby barn, we were certain of what they were! . . . at least, well, we recognized them, and we knew they were a type of swallow after my son corrected my confusion (oops!) as to whether they were swallows or sparrows (they both start with an "s"... surely you can see why I was confused ;)).

We couldn't remember which type of swallow they were, though!  What confused us was the thinking that surely if they live under the eaves of a barn they would be called "barn swallows" (right?).  No, actually they are called "cliff swallows"!   According to Wikipedia,

Cliff Swallows breed in large colonies. They build conical mud nests and lay 3-6 eggs. The natural nest sites are on cliffs, preferably beneath overhangs, but as with the Eurasian House Martin, man-made structures are now the principal locations for breeding.

The cliff swallows at Fort Steilacoom Park have their nests under the eaves of the large double barns, mostly under the eaves of the double silos.  Last year we saw cliff swallows for the first time when we discovered them flying between the twin barns at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and saw the neat mud nests they had built under the eaves of the barns there.  We had never before seen them at Fort Steilacoom Park, though, and we felt so exited to see the birds flying around the double barns and seeing the mud nests they had built!  I sure hope they will return each year.

neat view of the side of the barn
(above picture taken by my 10-year-old daughter)

the double barns

the double barn silos with the birds flying around them




My two boys in the courtyard between the double barns
(above picture taken by my 10-year-old daughter)





~* Barn Charm *~ 

6 comments:

  1. darn barn swallows, I mean cliff swallows. nice tale.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  2. You really got some nice shots of them & there's so many birds... great videos, too.

    The double barns are beautiful... thank you so much for joining in & linking up to Barn Charm =)

    Have a great week

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  3. Boys, Birds and Barns.....what a great trio. The pictures are excellent. Your boys must have a good teacher...haha.

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  4. Cool. There is an old mission about an hour from where I live that is where swallows come every year. It is supposed to be spectacular. I love the mission but haven't hit the bird time yet.

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  5. It does seem strange that they aren't barn swallows, doesn't it? I've actually seen cliff swallow nests under bridges and under the eaves of a boat house too. I like the idea that they eat so many flying insects...like mosquitoes! ;))

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