Barn Swallow and Others

Hirundo rusticaFinding a swallow isn’t so hard, but finding one taking a breather sure is.Hirundo rusticaBarn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) breed in various places in the city; this female was at Bush Terminal, so I’d be willing to bet there’s a nest nearby. A couple of years ago, I watched another pair gathering mud for a nest under a pier at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Tachycineta bicolorWe have five species of swallows breeding in NYC. Tree Swallows can be seen nesting in the boxes at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge this time of year, but they also appear in our parks, so one may assume they make nests in local tree cavities, the old-fashioned way. The photo above was taken on Governor’s Island, where new nest boxes and meadow welcome them.

There are colonies of Bank Swallows on Staten Island‘s southern shore, where the terminal moraine turns into cliffs along Raritan Bay. Northern Rough-wing Swallows also breed on Staten Island (they like bank-sides as well, but will use other crevices, for instance in walls); they were also found breeding on Governor’s Island a few years ago, an expansion that hopefully continues. And SI also has a famous Purple Martin colony. (Actually, there’s more than one: I found some other SI Purple Martin houses occupied during the Great Cicada Year of ’13.)

5 Responses to “Barn Swallow and Others”


  1. 1 Ellen June 8, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I love watching swallows fly as they look like they are having so much fun. So nice to see them up close. Your photos are so good – blowing them up to get a close-up for the details and so clear. Thanks so much. Your blog gives me such enjoyment every day.

    • 2 mthew June 9, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Thank you, Ellen. They are such remarkable aerial acrobats, the swallows, that it’s always a side day to see the last of them for the year. Before thought, though, our edgy beaches as they gather to migrate are sites of impressive spectacle.

  2. 3 earthmamaflowerchild June 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    So cool! I have always been partial toward swallows. A couple have built a nest on our porch – it’s lovely watching the parents swoop around and catch insects for their chicks.

    • 4 mthew June 9, 2016 at 8:12 am

      How wonderful to have them so up close and personal! Nests will sometimes be used again in subsequent years.


  1. 1 Swallows and Swifts | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on May 6, 2017 at 8:03 am

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