Readers’ wildlife photos

October 9, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good wildlife photos if you have them. I have a small backlog but it’s spotty. If you have a polydactylous cat, send two photos (cat and paw) and a few words about your moggy. I can accept them today and add them to the Caturday Felid post that will go up around 9:30 Chicago time.

Today we continue on with photos of tree swallows taken by Emilio d’Alise (see first sequence here). Emilio’s notes are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them. We have three separate feeding sequences, with two more to come in a later post. Without further ado:

From 2007 to 2013, I lived in Colorado and worked in Woodland Park (8,100 ft. elevation). We had an empty lot next to the office, and we put up a Bluebird house. For the first three years, we had Bluebirds nesting in it, but in 2011, a pair of Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) moved in, and returned each year for the next three years. This post from 2011 documents the final weeks before that year’s brood fledged — they all fledged, but a hawk got one of them —and it includes photos and videos.

But, the year that I got serious about photographing them was 2012, and these are some of the photos from those sessions.

These folders are three different feeding sequences, all shot during my one hour lunch. The camera is mounted on a tripod and pre-focused, and I’m standing about six feet away. It only took about five minutes for the adults to overcome their hesitancy due to my presence. During that time, they made a number of aborted passes, but eventually the insistent chirping of the chicks had them ignore me and the camera.

I could tell when the adults were coming because the chicks switched from chirping to offering their wide-open beaks, at which time I would shoot short bursts. The feeding itself usually lasts no more than one or two seconds unless the adult ‘lands’, usually to offer a larger meal that was more difficult to shove into the awaiting open beak.

On most feedings, a fair portion of the adult’s head goes inside the beak of the chick (both close their eyelids during contact) to ensure the meal is not lost. Still, occasionally, a few bugs fall out before the chick has a good grasp of it, probably because various parts of the bug may be stuck to the adult’s plumage.

On average, I would say at the peak (when I was shooting), the parents were coming by about every one to two minutes.

As far as I could tell, for a few weeks — from early morning to dusk — both adults did nothing but catch bugs and feed the chicks.

Photo Folder: Feeding Sequence 1 – hovering, quick

Photo Folder: Feeding Sequence 2 – landing and nice launch

Photo Folder: Feeding Sequence 3 – quick

The 2012 Tree Swallow post with these photos and longer narrative (and videos) is at this LINK. The comments on that post also has a discussion about photographing birds and building bird houses. A couple of the links with plans are probably dead, but THIS link about bird houses sizing still works.

4 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Some very good photos. At times it looks like the food is being jammed way down below the gizzard.

  2. Really enjoy your tree swallow photos. It’s funny that the chicks look bigger than their parents (at least their heads).

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