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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Barn Swallows

It was always fun to visit Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in summer to see the swallows. The refuge was famous in former years for the Barn Swallows which nested in the eaves of the visitors' center that stood at its entrance. The visitors' center is gone now, destroyed as so much else was by Hurricane Ike, and it has recently been replaced by a state-of-the-art new center that is actually several miles away from the refuge, two miles off Highway 10E at the 810 exit. It is a beautiful center and serves not only Anahuac but other wildlife refuges in the area.  

Where the old visitors' center used to stand, a new gazebo has been constructed, and the Barn Swallows have returned and now nest in the gazebo. When we were there last week, it seemed to me that there were not as many nests as in previous years, but still there were plenty of the beautiful fast-fliers around.

Some of the nests appeared to have young in them, but most still had brooding parents sitting on the eggs.

As I walked around the pond next to the gazebo, I saw evidence that some of the pairs of birds had already raised their young.

I came upon this dead limb which stretched out over the pond and it had five fledgling chicks lined up in a row on it. They had obviously just left the nest within the last day or so.

At first I had thought there were only four babies, but when I looked at them from another angle I could see that there were five.

While I watched, the parents would fly by every few minutes and bring food for the hungry chicks. They fed them literally on the fly, only hovering briefly to deliver the meal.

One of the parents decided to take a rest on the limb. It's hard to tell if this is Mama or Papa since they essentially look the same, but the female is slightly lighter on the belly, so I think this is probably Mama.

The babies seemed in no hurry to stretch their wings and sat tight with their parent, while the other parent continued to deliver food.

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is still recovering from the devastation caused by Ike, but the swallows are back in good numbers, and that is a very good sign.


  1. Looks like a great place to visit. Glad the barn swallows came back to nest.

    1. It's always a hopeful sign when the swallows return, Steph.