Glass City Aerialists
By: Karen Menard
Rising high in the sky from the depths of bridges and other structures in the Maumee River, they quickly plummet out of sight in the blink of an eye. In a single, aerobatic bound, high numbers of insects disappear into large, gaping beaks attached to tiny, iridescent feathered torpedoes, sometimes cruising at speeds of 45 mph.
Capable of ingesting up to 2,000 insects per day, these freewheeling masters of flight are barn and cliff swallows -- also known in the birding world as “aerial insectivores.” Their insect driven, skyward stunts include many incredible aerial maneuvers that can easily be witnessed above the Maumee River on a warm day. These birds are important to our urban areas because they help to control insect populations.
Reliant on the availability of healthy, aquatic insects in their chosen habitat, swallows depend on good water quality not only for drinking, but to support their insect food sources as well.
Here at Glass City, barn and cliff swallows breed nearby in colonies, gluing their small mud nests to the sides of man-made structures located along the Maumee River.
Did you know?
During the breeding season, (for Calcium intake), swallows will sometimes eat small parts of mussel shells, crayfish exoskeletons, and eggshells.