We are blessed by the farm’s natural beauty. The long sides of the property run east to west, and the elevation is such that both the east and west ends of the property are the high points of the property, at about 500 feet above sea level; and the pasture slopes down to the middle of the property where the pond sits, at about 420 feet. Trees ring the entire property on three sides — south, east and west — with our street running along the north end. The farmhouse sits near the east end of the property along the street, and faces west out over the pasture and the pond. When looking out west from the farmhouse, the property slopes down and then rises up at the far west end, making for the most spectacular sunsets.
Because of that, I am often going outside at sunset to take a look, or I am finishing up with the chickens and turning out the lights in the brooder room. I don’t know how I had not noticed this before, but at about 30 minutes before sunset, the barn swallows start to come out to feed on the nighttime insects. Maybe the nighttime temperatures need to be at a certain minimum before the insects swarm enough for them to bother? But for the last several nights, at about 30 minutes before the sun dips fully below the horizon, what seems like a hundred or more barn swallows swoop and swirl in the most amazing aerial gymnastics. As the sun starts to dip below the horizon, more and more of them tuck away for the evening until there are no more and it is night.
At first, I assumed they were all going in and out of the very top of the former milking barn. I could see birds swooping in there and not coming back out. But tonight, not only was there the most amazing sunset, I also realized that many of the swallows are apparently nesting in the concrete that used to be a large water holding tank for the dairy cows. I saw them swooping in and out of that concrete structure, and could hear the echoes of their chirps and cries against the concrete walls.
I am not good at estimating numbers, but I think I may have well over a hundred barn swallows each evening. Incredible!!