Barn Swallows and a Balancing Act

Barn Swallow at the Horicon Marsh

Barn Swallow

Barns Swallows chose a challenging spot to rest when they attempted to perch on a wide metal railing.  A flock was flitting along the edge of the auto tour.  I am puzzled as to why they chose such a slippery slope on which to land.  The Barn Swallow’s feathers are a beautiful blend of blue and chestnut.  Barn Swallows are the most abundant and widely distributed swallow species in the world.

Barn Swallows at the Horicon Marsh

When they tried to walk up the railing, their feet slipped, and they rapidly flapped their wings to stay on top.  Picture the flailing of arms while walking on ice.  It was comical to watch.

Barn Swallows at the Horicon Marsh

“The Swallows live in air and feed when flying, and so have undeveloped perching feet, unfitted for walking,” says Florence Merriam in her book Birds of Village and Field – A Bird Book for Beginners.  They were persistent in trying to perch here though they were having difficulty holding on with their delicate feet.

Barn Swallow at the Horicon Marsh

Barn Swallow and a Balancing Act

“Although the killing of egrets is often cited for inspiring the U.S. conservation movement, it was the millinery (hat-making) trade’s impact on Barn Swallows that prompted naturalist George Bird Grinnell’s 1886 Forest & Stream editorial decrying the waste of bird life. His essay led to the founding of the first Audubon Society,” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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