Barn Swallows: On the Fly by Shiela Fuller

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Every May, the barn swallows return to my farm.  While I do have a barn, I have about ten nests attached to my house.  These mud constructed homes for baby birds are found on top of ceiling fan blades, light fixtures, built in to the corners where walls meet, and in one location, attached to the siding. These active, cheerful birds call my house, home.

Chattering and darting every which way through the summer air, barn swallows are identified by their blue metallic back feathers, their cream to reddish underbelly, and their most striking field mark is their forked tail.  Barn swallows catch and eat insects on the fly. They also drink on the fly while skimming low over a marsh or pond.  They typically eat moths, flies, dragonflies, and other flying insects. Swallows are found throughout the world, but barn swallows are most common.  They are usually found in open habitats, farm fields, beaches, and over water.

Barn swallows are migratory birds leaving my property in late September and returning in April. To me, they indicate that spring weather is close to follow.

It is the male barn swallow that typically arrives at the previous year’s breeding location. The swallows build cup shaped nests using mud as the glue while attaching feathers, horsehair, grass, and other found materials.  Reusing nests year after year, the swallows apply a new mud covering. Both male and females are stern defenders of their nest and will “mob” intruders like cats, hawks, or people.

In North America, it has been observed that barn swallows will sometimes build nests on structures underneath an osprey nest.  The swallows receive protection from the fish-eating osprey (they don’t eat swallows) and the swallows protect the osprey nest from intruders with their warning chirps.

Barn swallows are very often found in backyards but do not eat at backyard bird feeders.  It may be possible to attract them by putting up manmade nest cups long before the birds’ migration north.  A supply of mud is also helpful.  It is nice to have a healthy colony of swallows living nearby as they help in keeping the insect population down.  Anything that eats mosquitoes is a win on my farm.

Photo 1: This is the barn swallow collecting nest building or rebuilding supplies

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Photo 2: you can see the mud constructed nest with babies and the nest placement on a fan blade.

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Photo 3: In this photo, you can see the babies being fed by a parent thanks to the clearly identifiable forked tail.

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“All of the photos were taken from a respectable distance, some from inside my home, with a high zoom lens.”

To learn more about these fascinating birds visit:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Swallow/lifehistory

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barn_swallow

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/barn-swallow

http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Hirundo_rustica/

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Simply 7 interview & give away with Laura Sassi–“Love is Kind”

Jena Benton

Do you ever have a day that makes you feel like running away from it all?  Or maybe it’s not a day, but just one event that makes everything seem … terrible.  That’s how I felt yesterday.  But then my brother reminded me that this was just a moment, to persevere and stand strong.  And I thought about this wonderful little book that I’m going to talk about today and I realized that my day felt like little owl’s day.  Yet somehow, he was able to rise above it all.  Isn’t that what a wonderful book does?  It makes us find the connections to our real life? Today’s book is such a sweet little story that it would be a crime to miss it.

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LOVE IS KIND Blog Tour STOP FIVE: A Simply Seven Interview!

These cookies are so adorable, I had to share them with this great post!

Laura Sassi Tales

IMG_3148 2Today I’m delighted to be interviewed by Jena Benton as part of her Simply Seven Interview Series.  Interested in learning a little bit more about the backstory behind LOVE IS KIND?  Then grab one of these virtual cookies, baked by Miss A, and head on over!  I’ll make it easy for you.  Click here.  Oh, and there’s a giveaway too! Thank you for having me, Jena! I enjoyed answering your very thoughtful questions.

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Going Green? Ten Easy Ways to Make a Difference.

With the recent news about efforts to haul away the mammoth pile of floating garbage in the Pacific Ocean, some of us may wonder how we can possibly make a difference and help keep our earth and environment healthy. So many things we might do seem feeble and often futile.

I’m here to say that EVERYONE can do something – no matter how small – to reduce the impact we have on planet earth. Today I begin a series of SIMPLE STEPS you can incorporate into your life to help keep our earth home healthy.

  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store and reduce use of disposable plastic bags.
  • Buy local to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and take shorter showers.
  •  Use a water filter pitcher or install one on your sink to refill water bottles.
  • Instead of driving, ride a bike for short distances. or take a train or bus to work.
  • Don’t let the sink faucet run when you wash dishes or brush your teeth.
  • Unplug electronics when you’re not using them.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. Today’s detergents clean just as well in cold water.
  • Line dry clothes if and when possible.

There are MANY more ways to go green.  I’ll share them in coming weeks. Got any favorite earth-friendly tips of your own you’d like to share?

 

Got Museums? Go For Free.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22  is Museum Day.  You can take the WHOLE FAMILY out for a free day at a museum, zoo or cultural center near you.  SMITHSONIAN Magazine has paired up with museums in almost every state to encourage families to explore local museums and cultural centers. 

Check out http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/museumday to find a museum near you and to get your tickets.

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Fit Kids=Smart Kids.

A recent study of 70 kids aged 9-11, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that strong muscles in children correlates to better memory.  Other studies found that aerobically fit children have better thinking ability, attention, memory, and academic performance.

Bottom line: Getting kids moving with strength-building and aerobic activities during their school years will lead to an overall better school experience. Kids don’t have to join a gym.  Just make sure your child’s school has a playground with lots of equipment and that recess and gym classes are a regular part of the schedule.  Set an example by doing active things together as a family.  Taking after dinner walks, dancing to favorite songs, jumping rope, using a hula hoop, skipping and swimming.  Try crab walks, wheelbarrow races, pillow case races, and soup can arm curls to build muscles.

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Activity can be fun when parents set the tone and participate as well.  The rewards are better health and a smarter brain!

Picture Book Author Robin Newman Presents: Squawking with Jim, the Peacock + Book Give-away.

Today it is my pleasure to be a stop on the blog tour for PB author Robin Newman’s newest book NO PEACOCKS which is illustrated by CHRIS EWALD (Sky Pony Press). I’ve got the inside scoop from none other than Jim, resident peacock.

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Every day Phil, Jim, and Harry are fed sunflower seeds by the staff who care
 for them at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But one day, they decide they’re sick of seeds. They make a break for the New York City streets in search of pizza or Chinese takeout. But everywhere they go, they’re told “No peacocks!”

So, they try to get an ooey, gooey, delicious meal closer to home. But 
how are they going to sneak into The Cathedral School’s dining hall and get their wings on the school’s world-famous mac ’n cheese? A little plotting, some stolen disguises, and help from the students, and the mission is a go!

Will the peacocks get their mac n cheese? Or will their cover be blown, forcing them to fly the coop? This fictional feathered tale was inspired by the real-life beloved celebrity birds living on the grounds of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

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DBJ: Jim, you are the first peacock I’ve ever interviewed.

Jim: It’s funny but you’re not the first person to say that to me.

DBJ: Just a bit of background for my blog readers. You and your brothers, Phil and Harry, live on the grounds of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on 112th St. and Amsterdam Avenue in New York.

Jim: That’s right! Harry and I have been around since about 2002. Phil came later.

DBJ: I couldn’t help but notice that you and Harry are the traditional blue-green peacocks while Phil has white feathers.

Jim: Phil is a leucistic white peafowl. Everyone seems to think it’s a big deal (especially Phil!) and tourists are always trying to snap his picture but personally I don’t see the appeal.

DBJ: Is there a way to tell you and Harry apart?

Jim: Ask any of the children. Each one seems to have a foolproof system for telling us apart. Say, are you going to eat those almonds?  All I had for breakfast were some sunflower seeds. And those pesky neighborhood pigeons kept pecking at my food.

DBJ: You poor bird. Please take the entire bag.

Jim: Thanks!

DBJ: Speaking of food, I hear that there’s a new book about the three of you focused on food.

Jim: No Peacocks! A Feathered Tale of Three Mischievous Foodies, by Robin Newman and illustrated by Chris Ewald. It flies onto bookshelves September 4th.

DBJ: Can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Jim: It’s about pizza and baked goods.

DBJ: Anything else?

Jim: Our quest to try the world’s best mac ‘n cheese.

DBJ: And?

Jim: I don’t want to spoil the plot (or your appetite). You’ll have to read the book.

DBJ: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Jim: If you read the book, and like the book, please leave a review. Also, please come by and say hello. You can even check out our fancy new coop. The New York Times wrote an article about it.   You can see the article at the end of this post.

 DBJ: Thanks, Jim!

Jim: Wait! I forgot to mention. Harry is stopping by Patricia Tilton’s blog, Children’s Books Heal, on September 7.  https://childrensbooksheal.com

Oh, and we’ll be looking for you at our BOOK SIGNING tonight! Be sure to stop by, we’ll be serving our favorite food (hint…it’s cheese)

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Robin Newman was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. She is the author of the Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake and The Case of the Poached Egg, as well the picture book, Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep, illustrated by Chris Ewald. She lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels, who are extremely fond of Phil, Jim and Harry.

Website: www.robinnewmanbooks.com

Twitter: @robinnewmanbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RobinNewmanBooks/339179099505049

Robin is giving away a signed copy of her book to a random person who leaves a comment on this post.  If you share the post on social media, I’ll put your name in the hat twice. The winner will be announced on WEDNESDAY 9-19 on this blog.