These small, agile, highly skilled fliers are indeed welcome at our lake, where they consume large numbers of insects on the wing. They can be seen in large numbers feeding, usually low above the lake bed, once the air has warmed and their insect prey have become active. The nest is a half cup of mud, lined with softer material, fixed to a vertical surface in a position sheltered from above. They sometimes nest under the roof of the gazebo. The normal clutch size is three; breeding usually takes place from August to September.
This bird can be confused with the Tree Martin, which is also common at our lake and which feeds in the same way. Tree Martins can be distinguished by their shorter, squarer tail, lacking the Swallow’s very long outer feathers, and by their whitish rump.
Drawings kindly provided by Pam. Photography and text by David Free. Audio clips provided by David Secomb.