LORI DUNN SCRATCHBOARD ART
promoting conservation through artistic efforts
9.5 x 24
Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) build their mud nests primarily in manmade structures. Not only do barns offer minimal interference by humans for this purpose, they are often associated with open pasture and meadows, home to many flying insects which are the main food source of these birds. With amazing dexterity, they swoop over fields catching bugs on the wing. The male swallow is primarily characterized by having a long forked tail, the female having a shorter forked tail. It is the male who chooses the nest site and pairs mate for life. Nests are made from sticky mud pellets to which other soft material is applied. The mud does not stick well to smooth painted surfaces which is why rough hewn wood is preferred as a base.
Internationally, barn swallows are not listed as threatened but in Ontario they are now considered a species at risk, with populations declining rapidly since the 1980's. It is yet unclear what may be causing this decline, but certainly I have personally wondered where have all the swallows gone and why? Even in areas where they should be I don't see them. It is a mystery, but I do hope they make a comeback as I just love watching insectivorous birds catching prey.
Originally, my reference photo for this piece started as a barn window with no panes of glass. I knew I wanted to add some swallows and then decided to create broken panes to add further interest. Here, I imagined a mated pair flying in and out through the openings during nesting season.