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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.