Feathers & Violet-green SwallowsJuly 5th, 2012 by Jackie, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant
I had no idea that nesting Violet-green Swallows would snatch feathers tossed into the air. During June, I went for a walk with Birding Intern Erica, and she suggested we pick up little feathers for the swallows to catch. I watched her hold a feather above her head, and wave it around a bit. The swallows soon came close and she let that feather go. The breeze wafted it about a bit and a fast swallow caught it with her beak. Additional feathers were tossed into the air and other female swallows caught them.
Wanting to get in on the action, I found a few feathers caught up in the grasses along the sandy shore of Mono Lake, then waved my hand a bit. When I saw a bird come near I let the feather go and soon it was in the beak of a very pretty little bird. I tossed a few more feathers. Some did not get caught in time and drifted to the ground, but others were successfully snatched.
After one bird caught her feather, I turned and watched her fly off. She headed over the lake to a stand of tufa that lay just off shore. Erica told me the swallows like to build their nests in the cavities that riddle the tufa. Watch for the Violet-green Swallows at South Tufa during your visit!