June 21, 2009

Barn Swallows Nesting on Cliffs!

For Father's Day I decided to tell about a Father's Day adventure that took place one year ago up north near Sioux Falls, SD. The weather was great and my dad and I were having a wonderful time. We visited Palisades State Park and checked out the neat Sioux Quartzite formations that rose above Split Rock Creek. The formations were neat and what we found nesting on them was even neater-Barn Swallows!! I saw a small nest clinging onto the cliff face and it had Barn Swallows going to and from it. It is hard enough to find Cliff Swallows nesting on cliffs not to mention Barn Swallows who were named very well. You just never seem to see them nesting away from human structures, at least not until then.
Later on my dad and I went to a place called Devil's Gulch (this was once a hide out for Jesse James) in Garretson, SD which had similar formations but on a smaller scale. They too had nesting swallows with Barn and Cliff Swallows nesting together! The lighting was just right when I took this photo from about 10 ft away.

and this photo. The Cliff Swallows were nesting right nearby.

I wonder how common the Barn Swallows were back when there were no barns or homes and where they nested. I am pretty sure they used to nest here but where else and what else did they use? Has anyone seen them nesting away from barns and homes as well? This discovery still intrigues me to this day.


J'ellen said...

My "Watchable Birds" book says "Formerly limited by a shortage of suitable cliffs for nesting, these birds have ranged more widely with the proliferation of barns and other buildings." Makes it sound like they only nested on cliffs long ago and so there were far less of them than there are now.

Bill Bossman said...

Tucker, I have not seen Barn Swallows nesting on cliffs, but I know of a place north of Platte, South Dakota where Cliff Swallows are nesting on the side of an abandoned one-room country school house. It certainly is interesting when birds do not behave as we expect them to.