Pacific Swallow foraging for flies

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 3

“We often see our resident Pacific Swallows (Hirundo tahitica javanica) sitting on a perch and flying out intermittently to forage for insects. Or else flying high in the air to forage.

“At this site I have, at every visit over past 4 years, seen them forage at near ground level. This location has many farms that use fertiliser as well as a diary farm that attracts flies. The main hindrance to bird watching here is the numerous flies that settle on you. The birds however have a concentrated food source. They especially like the stretch of road next to the dairy farm which has the highest volumes of insects.

“Documenting this on camera has been a disappointment in the past. This time I made a concerted effort by parking perpendicular to the road (traffic volume was low and slow on this single lane road, but I had to move occasionally) and used the car to stabilise the lens as well as minimise my disturbance of them.

“…They are consummate flight artists and swoop down, fly fast along the ground, get an insect (house fly or other large fly) and are back up in the air. They fly just a few cm above the road surface and if they miss often swing back for a second try. They seem to continue this active for long periods.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Tambun Interior, Perak, Malaysia
16th July 2011

3 Responses

  1. Kate

    A pair of pacific swallows have been visiting my balcony almost on a daily basis. They are indeed great flight artists, the ways they manoeuvre themselves in the small and narrow space to perch on the balcony’s water pipe.

    At first, I was worried that they would crash into my balcony glass door!

    I have been wondering how to be a good host to these delightful visitors. After reading your article, I shall let some milk go stale and place it on the balcony to attract the flies. I hope to provide some tidbits for them.

    Thanks for writing the article.

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