Back in early May I reintroduced you to several of the swallow species that we can find here in Eastern Iowa. If you missed this post but still like to have a look, just click HERE and a new window will open and will bring you back to this post. One species was missing, the Cliff Swallow, although I had seen it in 2013. Luckily a few days ago I recognized some swallows flying under one of the bridges that cross the Little Maquoketa River down in our valley. Pretty soon I identified them as Cliff Swallows, mainly by the distinctive spot on their forehead. I came back last Sunday, prepared to climb under the bridge into the mud of the river bed. They were in process of building their nests out of the mud that they can just find below in the river.
I think it is fascinating to watch these little architects how they do this. For them the structure of the bridge is a perfect place and a great habitat to raise their offspring. The building material is right below, the bridge protects them from predators and weather, and they have plenty of food available because of all the insects that call the river bed home. The only concern that I have is a big river flood, as we have seen it before, when the water level may reach the lower parts of the bridge. This would cut them off from the nest and may put their chicks in danger.
I shot these images in an awkward position on a steep slope under the bridge for about thirty minutes. The mosquitos were biting, it was muddy and slippery, and I was concerned, not so much about myself, but about my gear falling into the river. At the end I was very happy about to see the Cliff Swallows again and bring home some decent photos that tell a little story about these master architects.