Country Birder... and Butterflies 

Barn Swallow
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Barn Swallows are a joy to have on the property.  They thrill us with their aerial acrobatics and graceful maneuvers, and provide the appreciated service of eating vast quantities of flying insects.  This group of five youngsters perched on a cucumber trellis in the garden, patiently awaiting their parents to feed them.
Central Indiana - July 4, 2008
The Barn Swallow fledglings were quiet, content to preen themselves and watch me watching them, but erupted in quite a racket of chirps and fluttering wings when a parent dove in to deliver a freshly caught insect.  Barn Swallows will feed their new fledglings while perched, then later the young birds will take flight with their parents and receive their feedings in the air.
Central Indiana - July 4, 2008
Barn Swallows typically constructed their nests in the rafters of old barns that were built with sizeable wood beams, often rough-hewn logs with significant surface irregularity to hold the mud that Swallows use to construct their nests.  With modernization of farms through the years, as well as conversion of farmland to residential property, the ideal older barns are being torn down completely, or replaced with pole barn metal style buildings.  The modern trusses and smooth dimensional lumber used in new pole barns is not idea for mud nest construction, and are easily climbed by predators.  Many Barn Swallows return to their breeding grounds unable to find suitable nesting sites.  I have left a door open on the old barn on the property two years in a row, and have yet to entice any Swallows to nest there.  I'm ecstatic that the Swallows brought their youngsters to the garden and pastures to train them to care for themselves, but I have looked everywhere I know to look for their nest and can only assume that the family visits from a neighboring farm.
Central Indiana - July 4, 2008
Trellises, tomato cages, and clothes lines provide an ideal perch for the young Swallows to rest and await their parents' care.  If you're fortunate enough to have Barn Swallows nesting on your property, or you notice them around your property, try setting out structures suitable for perches and watch for Swallows, Bluebirds, and other insect-eating birds to utilize the structure.
Central Indiana - July 4, 2008
What a difference a day of exercise and flight training makes for these youngsters!  But for the shorter tails, they almost look like polished adults!
Central Indiana - July 5, 2008

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