Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows and Bank Swallows

I’m surprised to see what I think are Sand Martins here in Virginia. Surely they’re not the same species? Then the realisation dawns on me; they are. I remember reading about them when I first saw them on Westray in Orkney:

Sand Martins – forty years ago in my nature notebooks

They really are an international bird. Here they are known as Bank Swallows, Riparia riparia:

Bank Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

This one is very dark and doesn’t have the much lighter underparts:

Bank Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They are nesting in a hole in the back of this boat:

Bank Swallow Nest - The Hall of Einar

It’s nice to see they still fly like bullets here, just like they do in Orkney. I love the long shadow of the insect in its mouth here:

As well as Sand Martins there are Swallows here too. Here they’re called Barn Swallows, Hirundo rustica:

Barn Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The closer you get the more stunning they are:

Barn Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They really do have legs which are too short to perch on the ground, or, in this case, on a boat:

Barn Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I love this one’s duck-shaped shadow:

Barn Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s great to see how iridescent their plumage is:

Barn Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The light this evening is so beautiful:

Barn Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I was wondering why the Swallow is called the Barn Swallow in the USA when I saw this:

Tree Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s a Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor. That explains the need for the word ‘barn’ in Barn Swallow.

Tree Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Now that’s what I call iridescent:

Tree Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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