Bird of the Week – Cliff Swallow

Sure, they’re a messy nuisance if they build their mud daub nests under your eaves, but these are mosquito-eating machines.

Cliff Swallows at Nests, Creamer's Refuge

Cliff Swallows at Nests, Creamer’s Refuge

A Cliff Swallow foraging for its young eats about 60 bugs per hour, through all daylight hours. Both parents forage, so that’s 2 birds x 60 bugs per hour  x 20 daylight hours equals 2,400 bugs a day, mostly mosquitoes and flies. The hatching of their eggs is timed for peak bug season, wherever they nest. So for a month or so, a Cliff Swallow pair are biological mosquito magnets. Except, of course, that these mosquito magnets cost us nothing and manufacture themselves.

As the photo shows, the nests are made of thousands of little blobs of mud and bird spit. The nests are reused and occasionally used by other bird species.

Cliff Swallows migrate to Central and eastern South America in the winter.

Camera geek stuff: f4, 1/160, ISO100, flash.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.