Picture of the Moment—What happened to my nest?

Picture of the Moment

I have been trying to get a good picture of a cliff swallow ever since 1973 when I was a freshman at Texas A&M University. I had gone to the football game in Austin and discovered all the swallows that live under the bridges near downtown. They fly too fast, are small, and take off if you get too close to them. Now, with a 600mm lens, I can get close without getting close.

I got the picture below under a bridge on Old Highway 80. Sources indicate that although the highway was built in the 1910s and widened in the 1930s, the bridge was built in 1973. It carries traffic over the La Posta Creek, which actually had water in it when I was there yesterday.

People don’t seem to like cliff swallows since they like to build their nests on manmade structures, like bridges and under the eaves of buildings. Swallows, however, do a great job of keeping various swarming insects under control since they like to eat flies, bees, wasp, ants, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other bugs.

All swallows are protected by state and federal regulations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 as migratory insectivorous birds, so it is illegal to take, possess, transport, sell, or purchase them or their feathers, nests, or eggs, without a permit.

Swallows like to use the same nest year after year. The picture below seems to indicate that someone, probably the California Department of Transportation, has been by since last year’s nesting season to destroy all the nests. So these poor birds, returning now from their winter migration to Mexico, Central America, and South America, are finding that their nests have been destroyed. They probably are under a lot of stress.

The one below obviously found its old nest but it’s nothing like the poor bird left it late last year. Lot of work to do.

American Cliff Swallow

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat in absentia.Where's that damn cat?

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4 thoughts on “Picture of the Moment—What happened to my nest?

  1. Gerard Villanueva

    Hi Russel, Do you recall if Congress Bridge in Austin in 1973 was home to a bat colony like it is now? Swallows are still very much around, I’m just not sure where their favorite places to nest are now.
    ps I have a feeling that “in abstentia” is a term we’ll be hearing and using more often.

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    Reply
    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Yes, it was. I used to have pictures of the bats leaving one evening in Fall 1973 but those pictures were abandoned in Texas in April 1993 when I also abandoned Texas. I understand from friends in Austin that the bat colony has grown and taken up residence under a few other bridges in the area there but the Congress Bridge colony is still the largest.

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