Friday, July 22, 2011

cliff swallow ~ 07/22/11 ~ Elkhorn Slough

juvenile cliff swallow
Petrochelidon pyrrhonota (formerly Hirundo pyrrhonota)

posted 09/26/11 - This poor little thing had fallen out of its nest. The dutiful parents were still swooping down to feed it even though people were only feet away from the entrance to the nature center building. Judging by the amount of piled poop, I wonder if it was close to being fledged. By the time we returned from our hike the juvenile cliff swallow was gone. Surely it didn't fly away on its own? We went inside to inquire what had happened. One of the volunteers is a wildlife rehabilitator and took the bird. Apparently, there were many things wrong with it, including open sores and a misshaped wing. I know bird lice are common, but that wouldn't necessarily explain the open sores. And, how would one rehab a bird with a misshaped wing? My question was shrewdly evaded by the volunteer.

I've posted pictures of cliff swallows at Elkhorn on 05/13/10 with their distinctive gourd-shaped nests. The volunteers told us that the odd wooden structures in the meadows were built specifically to lure the cliff swallows to nest there, instead of on the nature center and research buildings. It didn't work. That may explain why for a couple years I noticed strips of reflective ribbon exactly where this bird's next was.

ps - I often don't think things through before commenting on others' blog posts. I couldn't figure out why Tree in the Door's Fauna and Flora has pictures of cliff swallows in cup-shaped nests, like what barn swallows have. Duh! I should have noticed the birds were adult and that they were just starting the process of building their nests.

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