Barn Swallows are heading south by now, many headed for South America. Birding guide Harry Fuller says: "Just think! You got this tiny little brain, smaller than a walnut, and you spend the summer in Oregon and you've got to go to Chile for the winter, 'cause you're a Barn Swallow, and you can do that in less than two months! Give that job to a human being and think of the obstacles they would face if they couldn't go the airport and buy a ticket. We shouldn't make fun of 'birdbrains.' They can do incredible things that we would never be able to manage."
Barn Swallows Travel South – From an Interview with Harry Fuller
Written by Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Calls of several Barn Swallows]
Barn Swallows – North America’s most abundant and widely distributed swallows – the ones with the deep blue back, the dark orange throat, and that elegant forked tail – are heading south by now. Many of these long-distance migrants will follow the Central American isthmus into South America. High concentrations pass through New Jersey’s Cape May in late August and early September.1 Barn Swallows all across the country will have departed by late September. [Calls of several Barn Swallows]
It’s pretty hard to even imagine what it would take to make this trip on your own steam, isn’t it?
Here’s Oregon birding guide, Harry Fuller:
…Just think about it. You got this tiny little brain, that’s smaller than a walnut, and you spend the summer in Oregon and you’ve got to go to Chile for the winter, ‘cause you’re a Barn Swallow, and you can do that in less than two months! Give that job to a human being and think of the obstacles they would face if they couldn’t go the airport and buy a ticket. You know, if they had to do it on their own with their own body and their own strength and gather their food every day…so we shouldn’t make fun of ‘birdbrains.’ They can do incredible things that we would never be able to manage. [Marantz III Track 115 6:00+][Calls of several Barn Swallows]
We’re learning amazing new things about bird migration, and you can find out more, on our website, birdnote.org. Today’s show brought to you by The Bobolink Foundation. For BirdNote, I'm Mary McCann.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls and chatter of Barn Swallows 106593 recorded by R.S. Little.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org September 2012 / September 2015 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# BARS-04-2012-09-04 BARS-04