Friday, April 18, 2014

Swallows in the Backyard

I'm not an expert on birds -- not by any stretch of the imagination. But I can recognize basic species on sight, and I can recognize a number of calls, such as those made by cardinals or doves. But when it gets to the particulars of a species, I'm not much use.

Lately, we've had a pair of swallows hanging around our backyard. They've pretty much made themselves at home. We had to take down our wind chime because they had begun sitting there and leaving their droppings on our patio.

As a rule, I'm a big fan of swallows. I enjoy watching their aerial acrobatics as they dive and swoop, snatching insects from the air. Many gardeners erect multi-holed bird condominiums on unusually tall poles to attract these beneficial birds, knowing that the little insectivores will eat many of the pests that can decimate a garden. Our little birds will sweep through our patio, up under the eave and then back out again. They are truly graceful little birds.

Growing up, I often heard folks refer to "martins", or even "purple martins". In fact, I've usually heard this term more than I have the term "swallow". Actually, I believe the martin is a sub-species of swallow. I'm not sure that the birds in my yard are martins; if not, I'm not sure what their precise species is. The purple martin, I think, has a rich blue tint to it, and I don't see that on the pair of swallows visiting my yard.

My swallows are interesting little creatures, and they don't scare easily. I can usually go about my business in the yard without their flying away unless I get within 10 feet of them. Even then, they usually return quickly and take up their positions again. They like to perch on my neighbor's rain gutter and face our patio. I guess they are trying to figure out what happened to their wind chime.

Profile of our frequent guests.

Front view of our little friends.

Donna set out her hummingbird feeders a couple of weeks ago. We've only seen 1 or 2 hummingbirds visiting, but we do get a number of other birds that like to visit these feeders, though, especially finches. We've even had a couple of doves perch atop the poles that hold the hummingbird feeders.

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