Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dolphins of the Air- Our Summer Swallows

A mass of flying birds!
Many of the birds that Jacob and I enjoy finding in Austin are cooler weather visitors, and they move North when the weather is hot.  One of the exceptions is several members of the swallow family: Chimney Swifts, Purple Martins, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Cliff and Cave Swallows, and Barn Swallows.  All of these birds can be seen near ponds, and lakes in Austin.  And now during the hottest time of year they seem to be every where! This is because they have literally doubled in number as their chicks take wing, and many parents have started a second brood.  As August begins, the flocks also start to congregate for their Southern migration, this too makes their numbers seem to grow exponentially.

A Cliff Swallow looking over it's shoulder
I never tire of seeing the acrobatic fliers dive and bank, swoop and soar riding the breezes with ease and joy. Their abilities to catch insect food in flight and skim across the water for a drink amazes me.  I often like to imagine each one is tied to a string, a kite, and I am playing with the tension of the string.  My dad described them perfectly to me when he said they were the dolphins of the air. I share that description all the time because brings a prefect picture to mind.

Banking to the right
Two birds with one photo
Skimming the water's surface

I knew photos of these active birds would be hard to get, and I didn't have too much time since the dogs didn't want to wait long to continue our walk.  Most of the photos I took were deleted, but a few turned out well enough to show how athletic, graceful, and effortless these birds are and why they capture my attention.

Immature Barn Swallow- perching is much easier to photograph!

Two Cliff Swallows (I believe) with another of my
favorite summer birds a Scissor-tailed flycatcher

Noth'n but Blue Skies!