Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) are long-distance migrants. After spending the breeding season throughout most of North America, they winter in Central America and South America. Barn swallows are one of the later swallows to return to our area in the spring, usually arriving in April.
Imagine my surprise when on January 3oth I saw a single juvenile barn swallow at Baum Lake (Shasta County CA). Temperatures hovered around freezing and the ground was covered with snow. What was this barn swallow doing there? Did it never leave last fall? Was it returning early? Was it writing its own, new script in response to climate change.
Leonard and I were puzzled because large numbers of barn swallows return about the same time in April. This was a lone bird. Nor did it appear to be sick as it flew about normally.
Midges hatch at Baum Lake throughout the winter so the unexpected barn swallow had sufficient food.
Once again Mother Nature has provided us with a conundrum.
Thank you to fellow birder, Mel, for confirming our identification as a juvenile barn swallow. To me, the situation was so unusual I wanted to make certain this was truly a barn swallow.