Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) By John Velasquez

You have to love this long distance flyer. I chose to highlight the Barn Swallow for the month of August not only because of its striking cobalt blue color and rusty colored neck, but its long projecting primaries and the forked tail. Or maybe I chose to feature this swallow because of my admiration for their long distance journeys from the very southernmost tip of South America to the northernmost part of North America each year. I am fascinated with their travels through countries, without having to wait in lines to have their passports stamped, and enjoying all the different cultures, different habitats, incredible sounds of the night, different dialects spoken from many countries and regions.

Just imagine this. The Barn Swallow starts off in Argentina enjoying people dance the Tango, crosses across the huge grasslands (pampas) into Buenos Aires with the distinct smell of thick cuts of steak. From there the Barn Swallow continues to head north passing the must see Iguazu Falls with a birds eye view. From Argentina into Brazil where they pass through Rio almost at the Christ the Redeemer Statue eye level and telling Brazil good job on advancing to the quarterfinals stage of the 2018 world cup.

As the Barn Swallow continues to head north the last country in South America they pass by is Ecuador coasting through the beautiful cloud forests saluting the booted racket tails as they enter into Central America. The first country in Central America they admire is Panama known for the Panama Canal which reaches 51 miles in length connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean Sea. The Barn Swallow continues through Costa Rica and its famous Arenal Volcano, it swiftly moves through the 32 Mexican States moving rapidly and high above Crested Caracaras and finally into the US.

This intrepid flyer has just traveled from the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego Argentina to the Rio Grande at the US-Mexico Border at an incredible 8,800 miles. But wait, it still has tank in the gas to fly another 1500 miles to arrive at my Hartford City, Indiana backyards (or front yards).

Barn Swallows remind of their arduous journey as they fly acrobatically in front of me while I mow my Indiana grass on my Indiana patch of land. As I continue mowing, kicking up moths and bugs knowing I am delivering a tasty buffet for much needed energy for my Barn Swallows just makes me feel at peace.
John Velasquez, Vice President, Indiana Audubon Society.


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