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Swallows on Wires
© George Jameson
Once nesting season ends, swallows know it's time to party! Whether they nest as single pairs or in large colonies, both adults and juveniles now gather on electrical wires by the dozens, socializing before they migrate. Migrating by day - and foraging for insects as they go - swallows (including this Violet-green Swallow) head south to Mexico and Central and South America. Your local Audubon chapter can help you get a good look at swallows – and other birds, too!
Swallows on Wires
Written by Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
[Chatter of Violet-green Swallows]
Once nesting season ends, these Violet-green Swallows seem to know it’s time to party! They usually nest as single pairs in cavities or nesting boxes in the Western United States. But now, they gather on electrical wires by the dozens, and chatter away as part of their pre-migration socializing.
[Repeat chattering of Violet-green Swallows]
They’re not alone. Tree Swallows, both adults and juveniles, often join the Violet-greens, before they all begin their southbound migration to Mexico and Central America. Cliff Swallows may gather in the same fashion. And Barn Swallows — not just in North America, but across Europe and into China — party, too. [Chatter of Barn Swallows]
But all this jovial conversation isn’t just a celebration. Birds flock for protection — the more eyes watching, the greater the chance of noticing predators. Also, birds flock to share information about where to find food.
Migrating by day, swallows forage for insects as they move south. Next spring when they return, you won’t see the swallows sitting on telephone wires. Then it’s all business, as they begin selecting their sites and building their nests. They save their socializing for the fall.
[Chatter of Barn Swallows]
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Chatter of the Violet-green Swallows provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller; Barn Swallow by R.S. Little.
Ambient swallow sounds recorded by C. Peterson
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org September 2013 Narrator: Michael Stein