Barn swallows are handsome birds, with iridescent blue backs and rusty orange faces and chests. Males and females look similar to our eyes, but to other swallows they likely differ owing to their ability to see wavelengths of light we can't. The pointed wings and forked tails make barn swallows quick, agile fliers, a necessity for catching flying insects on the wing.
I like to photograph barn swallows in the early morning when the light compliments their vivid coloration. Barn swallows are visual hunters and so feed during the daytime, especially near dusk when insects start to swarm. Despite their active lifestyles swallows will often perch and pose for me.
Barn swallows occur across the northern hemisphere during summer. In Canada they are considered a threatened species. They appear to be common and abundant, however over the last 30 or so years their numbers have decreased by over 70% for reasons that are likely to be complex and multifactorial. A previous decrease in abundance was due to their being hunted for use in the millinery trade, the price of being pretty.
The colony of swallows I photograph and observe consists of several pairs of birds that live in a nature preserve near where I live. There is a boardwalk running through a marsh and the opportunistic swallows build their nests under the boardwalk.
Nests are made of mud and grass and are constructed up against the structure of the boardwalk. These nestlings are getting quite big now and will soon be on the wing.
I took this picture on the last day of August and within a few days the swallows had gone, starting their journey to Central and South America. For me this signifies that another long, cold Canadian winter is not that far off. 

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