2017-09-07 / Nature

Swallow Migration is Upon Us


Thousands of swallows over the sand dunes at Second Beach. Thousands of swallows over the sand dunes at Second Beach. Although fall migration usually peaks in late September and early October, it is nevertheless currently in full swing. One phenomenon easily seen are the clouds of swirling and swooping flocks of thousands of tree swallows, currently observed all day around the Third Beach and Sachuest Point area. Witnesses to this annual spectacle often ask why there are so many. The reason is that in addition to fattening up on the many insects also found coastally at this time of year, in case of bad weather, the swallows resort to Plan B and switch their diets to fatten up on bayberries, also found coastally.

The bayberry was used by colonists for candles, and the tree swallows are one of the few animals able to digest the wax found in the bayberries. The consumption of insects and bayberries enables the swallows to refill their fuel reserves, in preparation for their forthcoming migration south.



Swallow feeding. 
(Photos by Carmen Rugel) Swallow feeding. (Photos by Carmen Rugel)

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