Thursday, May 13, 2010

cliff swallow ~ 05/13/10 ~ Elkhorn Slough

cliff swallow
Hirundo pyrrhonota

I was amused to see the mass numbers and enclosed shape of the cliff swallow nests compared to the single, open barn swallow nest I found in Oregon last year. These cliff swallows look stern to me; maybe it's the white brow.

Growing up in the Central Valley, we had "mud" swallows attempt to build numerous nests on our house. Every weekend my dad would wash off the mud from the eaves with a hose. I'm guessing they were cliff swallows now that I know cliff and barn swallows are the only ones to build mud nests in California and the differences between the two.

It seems to me Elkhorn Slough folks used to try to keep the swallows away from the nature center and research buildings with reflective strips of ribbon. Now, there's a "Shhh!" sign to caution visitors from disturbing the nests. I can imagine by the end of the nesting period, that artistic splatter of droppings could well end up being a significant pile of poop.

I usually don't link to IPM sites, but both links in the common and scientific names above are for management. In a previous entry I gave the Cornell-supplied genus of Petrochelidon. I'm not sure which name is now most commonly used.


Anonymous said...

Up here in Mendo Co. there is a spot under a bridge over the Eel River, north of Potter Valley (beautiful country) where at the right time of the spring we watch them swooping down to collect beakfuls of mud, then swoop up to build their nests under the bridge. So wonderful.

Orchids and Nature said...

Your Swallows seem to build more elaborate nests compaired to the Swallows that nest in our country, ours biuld a flatish mud nest on ledges in old biuldings, farm buildings are their favourite. The bird that builds a nest similar to your Swallows is called a House Martin over here in England.

Nature ID said...

Thanks, David, for the name of your local "mud" swallow. I looked it up. It's fascinating how the nest shapes are very distinctive between species.

Most of our local non-mud swallows nest in natural cavities and crevices. I wonder where "mud" swallows nested before man-made structures of buildings and bridges? Where I grew up in the expansive flat land of the Central Valley, there were no rock outcroppings. Hmm?

biobabbler said...

I love the amazing faces of each species, clearly discernible from your photographs. Nice!