Zenfolio | Bruce Fellman | Switch hitters

Switch hitters

April 05, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I've been wondering when the Tree Swallows would come "home" to the local wetlands, and this afternoon, on a trek past the neighborhood farm pond, I spotted the iridescent blue acrobats in their sunshine glory. I think the resident ducks and Red-winged Blackbirds enjoyed the company of our earliest-arriving swallows. In truth, the birds that biologists call Tachycineta bicolor, in honor of the sharply contrasting blue and white coloration, don't have very far to travel during migration—they may winter as far north as Virginia and the Carolinas, although the majority probably head to Mexico and Central America—and Tree Swallows are built to take one major problem in our so-called springs in stride. The main part of the swallow diet is insects, which the birds are adept at snagging on the wing. But in the typical insect-less springs we seem to have here all the time, Tachycineta bicolor can switch its diet from bugs to berries, thus being able to survive the lean conditions. Glad to have these "switch hitters" back.


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