My daughter and I made our first observations for MassAudubon’s Big Barn Study yesterday. We had seen barn swallows around the yard and suspected they were living in our big, old barn. What we didn’t realize was that they were entering the barn through the garage. (These doors are closed much of the day. Should we leave the garage doors open? Will they abandon these nests if we don’t? Will we be allowed in the garage once eggs are laid?) Or that they were building nests in not-so-safe places. (Like on top of a live electrical outlet.) As usual, closer observation has piqued our interest, and we’ve got a lot to look into.
We also learned that barn swallows are very hard to capture on film. We never saw one rest or perch, and trying to follow one in flight was a dizzy-making exercise. Luckily, we saw a lot of other birds while we were observing the swallows … including this yellow-bellied sapsucker. (We’d seen the strange holes on this tree–a European mountain ash–but weren’t sure who was responsible. Now we know.)
Favorite fact for this bird, mined from iBird Explorer North: A group of sapsuckers are collectively known as a slurp. Who knew?