Monday, September 19, 2011

Swallows Staging in the Dunes

For the next few weeks you should be able to see an amazing sight--tens of thousands of swallows gathering and staging in the dunes along the Cape shores. See all those little black dots on the sand? Those are swallows--mostly tree swallows though you may see others mixed in as well....
These birds are rising up in flight once again...everything they do seems to be done en masse and when a smaller group finds a good place to feed or rest there seems to be a message sent to others for they arrive by the hundreds from all directions...
here you can see some perching on a small craggy branch...
and here they are swarming on a bush...
I learned yesterday, while out with Wayne Peterson on a Mass Audubon sponsored trip that tree swallows, although mostly insectivorous, eat bayberry berries in the fall. This may explain their attraction to dune areas such as Sandy Neck where this was taken since dune areas are often packed with bayberry bushes. Of course there are still plenty of bugs around as well but after watching thousands of birds alighting in the bushes as well I think they were doing exactly as Peterson suggested--eating the bayberries!

If you are out in Provincetown, at South Cape Beach in Mashpee, at Sandy Neck in Barnstable or any other beach with lots of access to bugs and bayberries, keep your eye out for huge masses of staging swallows as they load up on nutrients and fats to tide them over on their long trip south for the winter. It's quite a spectacular show.

1 comment:

  1. i saw them the other day while out on sandy neck -- a wonderful sight!

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