Swallows: A Glimpse of Paradise

True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings.―William Shakespeare

Barn Swallow, Beaver Meadows, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Barn Swallow in Early Morning Light, Beaver Meadows, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. The Barn Swallow is the most widely distributed member of its family in the world. Canon EOS 7D/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light.

At times like this, the dreary end of a dreary Houston summer, my mind turns to some of those magical places I’ve visited in the past. Upon recollection, some of the most enchanting visions of nature have occurred in the presence of swallows. I remember such a scene in Yellowstone National Park where American Tree and Violet-green Swallows snatched insects from the air and lapped water on the wing from the surface of a beaver pond. Last spring I first noticed American Tree and Rough-winged Swallows performing similar aerobatic feats above Pilant and 40-Acre Lakes, Brazos Bend SP.

Violet-green Swallow, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Violet-green Swallow at Dawn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Canon EOS 7D/500mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light.

As a birder I pay close attention to swallows, as they often present an identification challenge while in flight (Is that a Cave or Cliff Swallow?). As a photo-birder, I often pay swallows too little attention as photographing swallows in flight would be quite a trick. Swallows are not particularly swift fliers, but their darting, acrobatic style of flight makes capturing them in the air something I’ve not yet accomplished, except under stalled circumstances like approaching a nest or perched young. Maybe someday I’ll catch one gliding across the surface of a liquid. Until then, I’ll just have to wait for them to land.

Baby Purple Martins, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Texas
Feed Me! Baby Purple Martins, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Purple Martins are the largest swallows in North America. Canon EOS 7D/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light.

©2015 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission.