[Tweeters] reply to Caren's swallow question

Kevin Purcell kevinpurcell at pobox.com
Mon Jan 19 13:19:40 PST 2009

I was at the Arboretum/Foster Island last Thursday (1/15) and saw 6
of them at a long distance along the side of 520 (looking out to the
west(?) after you go through the underpass under 520) feeding above
the water. I'd seen them mentioned here but didn't think I'd see them.

Two ID features stood out at that range in decent 8x bins: at least
one had a "swallow tail" and I saw flashes of red on their breast/
belly as others were turning. Seems like BARN SWALLOW (as another
birder I met on the Fill observed when I described it ... yeap :-).

One other possibility (to keep in mind ... I have no observational
evidence for this at the Arboretum/Foster Island) is some TREE
SWALLOW are known to not migrate in the Eastern US (see the book
"Songbird Journeys"). Their winter range on the West Coast is
actually further north than BARN SWALLOW (year round at SF and south
in CA). The same is true of VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW. But I was too far
away to see field marks for them but I got the feeling they didn't
all have "swallow tails".

Next time perhaps ... there could be a mix of swallows there.

And with the sun today the insects should be up.

On Jan 16, 2009, at 7:15 AM, Connie Sidles wrote:

> Hey tweets, I have seen winter swallows at the Fill in years past -

> always in ones or twos only, of course. The species has always been

> Barn Swallow, but I suppose almost any bird can decide to stick

> around our (usually) mild climate if it thinks this is a good place

> to find food. Before the snow storms hit, there were two Savannah

> Sparrows at the Fill who evidently thought they wouldn't bother

> this year with migration. Who needs it? I haven't seen them since

> the snow melted, so maybe they decided to head south after all.

> Better late than never.

Kevin Purcell
kevinpurcell at pobox.com

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