Our first stop at Horicon Marsh was the International Education Center. We arrived at 8:45 (after leaving home at 6 AM) and one of the employees was kind enough to allow us in before the official opening time of 9 AM. She was very helpful and suggested the best areas to spend our day there. The Education Center is located at the southernmost border of Horicon Marsh and is surrounded by open fields on three sides and the marsh to the north of it. Three of the six types of swallows that are regularly found in the midwest were flying around the grounds of the Education Center.
The most numerous was the Cliff Swallow. We actually don’t see many of them in the Chicagoland area but they were the most numerous at Horicon. Swallows are very difficult to photograph in-flight because they are small, fast and change direction often. I noticed a small ditch that the Cliff Swallows were attracted to because of the mud at the bottom of it. The Cliff Swallows would land in the ditch and fill their bill with mud, then return to the nesting area and shake out the mud in the shape of a pellet to form a mud nest. Here are some pictures of the Cliff Swallows landing in the mud ditch and then taking off again. Note the mud on the Cliff Swallow’s bill in the second pic as the bird takes off.
The second-most numerous swallow there was the Barn Swallow. I couldn’t capture one in flight but did spot a pair on their nest beneath the eves of the Education Center. Look carefully at the two thin feathers coming out from under the bird to the right. In flight these tendrils are easy to see and help ID the Barn Swallow.
We also saw Tree Swallows there at Horicon Marsh. These speedy swallows do like to perch so that’s the best way to grab a picture of them. I like both of these pics, particularly the second one on the lichen-covered Bluebird house.
Go Birding. Take Pictures. Share Here. Repeat.
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