Practice Makes Perfect

Baby Tree Swallows Learn to Glide

We have two Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) families nest in our garden this year, one in the back yard and one in the front.  The family in the back has three chicks, four chicks are in the front.  So, we have the sky covered for insect patrol this year.  Once a swallow family has success in rearing their young, they will be back to nest at the same place year after year.   The pair in the backyard has been nesting in our garden for the past three years.  I think the front pair is related.

We are very happy that we didn’t miss the young swallows fledging.  What’s fascinating about them is they don’t just fly and hop, they glide.  Swallows usually fly high up in the sky, maneuvering sharply, but the juveniles will glide a lot (perhaps to rest new wing muscles), much lower and between the trees as well.  I think they practice maneuvering at slow speeds.  If they don’t hit the branches, they will be fine in the sky.   They can do slow gliding that resembles a hang-glider or very fast like a fighter jet.

Three chicks from the back yard were practicing their flight skills today.  They can be noisy with that unique gargling song they sing, but the aerial slalom is really a high speed ballet that can keep you captivated and at times, take your breathe away.

The front chicks are too young to try.  Give them another week and we’ll need an air traffic controller.

Show me how, Dad.
Here, flip your wings like this.
And… take off
Cool…I can fly.

4 thoughts on “Practice Makes Perfect

    1. Thank you. They usually fly high up in the sky, catching insects, and come down to nest. They are fun to watch. Don’t underestimate these little fellows, they can get really aggressive if they feel that their nests and brood are threatened. I was dive-bombed many times.

  1. We have a few generations of Cardinals on our ‘back of the house’ feeder and what a pleasure it is to see the elders coax the young’ns out of a nearby mangrove for lunch and a dip in the bird bath next to it. Great Photos guys!
    Love this blog!! Woke today to the siting of a Great Blue Heron on our dock. Paradise!

    1. Thank you. The Cardinals in our area are still chasing each other around, they seem to nest later than other birds since they don’t have to fly back south in autumn. With blue herons abounding I guess a Koi pond in your yard is out of the picture, but paradise still.

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