Swallow Nest Building

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota). Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

I have to confess that I never knew how swallows carry all that mud to build their large nests.  It should have been no surprise to learn from this image that the mud is actually transported as a big blob stuck onto the bill.  This bird made repeated trips to the water’s edge – each time returning with a tiny amount of material for the nest.

Swallows are quite challenging to photograph in flight because they fly fast and make rapid changes of direction.  This bird was flying into a strong headwind and was purposefully heading in a straight line towards the nest. Both of these factors enabled the shot.

Canon EOS-1DX; EF100-400 f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM at 100mm; 1/16400 sec at f/5.6; ISO 2500