17 April 2014. Cayuga ON. It took some debate to decide on Bird of the Day. I thought Barn Swallow because it was, for me, the first this year of these handsome summer aristocrats. My companion though, favoured a male American Kestrel seen (and photographed) carrying a writhing snake to its Waterloo; that was my second choice. But then there was a handful of maybes to consider too: A shy, first of the year Hermit Thrush; A high, almost out of sight, Broad-winged Hawk; A single Bank Swallow skimming the river and tangled up with dozens of Tree Swallows; A pretty little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher or even a handsome leaf-tossing Eastern Towhee. All tough competitors and certain to make the cut another day, but in the end I opted for the Barn Swallow because it made me say Wow!
We found the Barn Swallow in the course of doing the daily census at the bird observatory. It was a full morning with bird songs (or in some cases bare utterances) all around, including Eastern Tufted Titmouse, Field Sparrows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals and Slate Coloured Juncos.
The river has been very high for the past couple of weeks, two days ago its flood-plain was just that, flooded. Now as the levels are receding, the birds are finding lots of insect meals. We watched as thirty or so Tree Swallows zipped around picking at the river’s surface and it was in this almost impossible to follow multitude, that I picked out the Bank Swallow, and to my clear delight, my Bird of the Day a female Barn Swallow.
Here are a couple of photos (courtesy of Renata Sadowska) of the American Kestrel with its still-writhing lunch.