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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®: Swallows on Wires

Air Date: Week of

Violet-green Swallows often gather on electrical wires to socialize before their migratory journey. (Photo: mjeedelbr, Creative Commons)

In the Northern Hemisphere, the fall migration season for birds is upon us as they congregate and get ready to fly south for the winter. As BirdNote®’s Michael Stein reports, for some birds this is also a time for socializing.


CURWOOD: In this half of the word, the fall migration season for birds is fully upon us as they congregate and get ready to fly south for the winter. As BirdNote’s Michael Stein reports for some birds this is also a time for socializing.

Swallows on Wires
Written by Frances Wood

[Chatter of Violet-green Swallows]
Once nesting season ends, these Violet-green Swallows seem to know it’s time to party! They usually nest as single pairs in cavities or nesting boxes in the Western United States. But now, they gather on electrical wires by the dozens, and chatter away as part of their pre-migration socializing. [Repeat chattering of Violet-green Swallows]

They’re not alone. Tree Swallows, both adults and juveniles, often join the Violet-greens, before they all begin their southbound migration to Mexico and Central America. Cliff Swallows may gather in the same fashion. And Barn Swallows — not just in North America, but across Europe and into China — party, too.

[Chatter of Barn Swallows]

Swallows, like the Violet-green above, migrate south to Mexico and Central America. (Photo: Stephanie Nixon, Creative Commons)

Birds flock for protection — the more eyes watching, the greater the chance of noticing predators. Also, birds flock to share information about where to find food. 

Migrating by day, swallows forage for insects as they move south. Next spring when they return, you won’t see the swallows sitting on telephone wires. Then it’s all business, as they begin selecting their sites and building their nests. They save their socializing for the fall. 

[Chatter of Barn Swallows]

Chatter of the Violet-green Swallows provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller;  Barn Swallow recorded by see BARS -02
Ambient swallow sounds recorded by C. Peterson 
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2010 Tune In to Nature.org    Sept. 2010 / Sept 2015 / 2020
ID#090805VSGSKPLU                  swallow-05-2010-09-03

CURWOOD: For photos migrate over to the Living on Earth website, LOE dot org



Find this tory on the BirdNote® Website

More about the Violet-green Swallow from the Audubon Guide to North American Birds

Learn more at All About Birds


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