Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Barn Swallows

Barn swallows in the fog
The barn swallow, which is found worldwide is included in Massachusetts Audubon Big Barn Study along with cliff swallows.  Massachusetts Audubon State of the Birds study has shown the cliff swallow is a bird that is rapidly declining and needs urgent conservation action.  Barn swallows are showing signs of wide-ranging decline and in Canada, was added to the endangered list.

Last year at the Stone Barn, there were at least two nesting pairs of barn swallows.  One  pair was in the cellar and the other built its nest on the rail over the main large door of the stone barn.
Barn swallows nest in the cellar

Barn swallows nest on the rail

Barn swallows utilize mud balls and straw to make their cup-like nest.  The barn swallows can have two broods per year.
Barn swallow carrying a mud balls to the nest

Adding straw to the nest

This year, the only pair of barn swallows was nesting outside on the rail above the main door.  Barn swallows to try to nest in the cellar, but were driven out by the phoebes.
Location of the nest

Location of the nest

Both the male and female barn swallows have been very active in feeding five hungry chicks.  Both would come and go and feed one or another of the chicks.  Occasionally resting on the rail, and preening before flying out to capture more prey for the hungry youngsters.
Feeding the hungry ones

"We want food."

Adult taking a rest

Which one will I feed

This one gets fed
 My methodology for obtaining the pictures was as follows.  I utilize my 500 mm F/4 Nikon lens along with a 1.4 X tele-converter on a D3s body.  Because, the nest was in shadow, I used a higher ISO so that I keep my shutter speed up.  My app picture was set at F/8 and the shutter speed varied between 1/160 sec. and 1/800 sec., I checked my histogram to make sure that I was not blowing out highlights.  There was a picnic table and benches outside across from where the nest was and I placed my camera lens and tripod on the table, set my composition and tried a test shot.  Once I confirmed I had what I wanted.  I sat down and utilized a wired remote release the fire the camera so I can catch the adults coming into the nest and feeding.

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