Wednesday, June 16, 2010

River Birds...Need Help With An ID

Today was my day off from work so I decided to visit the Etowah River (which is nearby) in search of birds that don't visit my yard/garden.  My first stop was at a little park that is privatively own by the family who runs one of the local feed stores. They allow access to the public.  How nice is that?  They have swings, benches, picnic tables and places to pitch tents along the river. 

Didn't see any birds but heard them and met a fisherman who told me about a place by the bridge that I have drove over a zillion times but never stopped to investigate.  The fisherman told me that he had seem "Cranes" (country folks refer to Herons by this name) and Hawks catch fish by the bridge.  

I went to town did my shopping, etc and stopped at the bridge on my way home.  After slowly making my way down a rocky bank to the river, I was delighted to see this Blue Heron. It was mid-afternoon and the Sun was brightly shining so the pictures are washed out. But I am happy to get my first picture of this outstanding water bird. 

See the little bird flying near the Heron?  Well...there were at least a hundred of these birds flying over the river sometimes one would zip close by me. I was in birder's heaven and wondered just what birds these were. My first thought was a Swallow but which one?  As  I walked closer to the edge of the river I noticed the mud nests on the bridge.  You will see that one bird is carrying something (maybe plant material) in his/her claws. You can click on the picture to see it larger. Thanks Ratty for teaching me this little trick!

Here is a picture of the nests.

Well...I am a bit befuddled. The tail of this bird is not forked so that eliminates the Barn Swallow.  So...I looked in my Field Guide and online for an I.D. Also sent a couple of pictures to my friend in FL who is really good at bird IDs....waiting to hear his opinion. I "think" they are Cliff Swallows.  Cornell's All About Birds doesn't include GA in their nesting range.  Checked out What Bird and found that they do include the very northern section of GA.  North GA is mountainous...I live in the foothills. However the mud nests look just like the pictures on both sites.  Maybe Cliff Swallows have expanded their range. 

Does anyone know the ID of these very cool birds?  

All good things are wild and free. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Peace to All!




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