Barn Swallow - Bird of the Year 2011

The Bird of the Year for 2011 is the Barn Swallow, formerly known as the European Swallow. The Barn Swallow migrates betweenBarn Swallow - Bird of the Year 2011 Europe/Asia and South Africa, and it is an “ambassador” for other migratory birds.
 
Funding for Bird of the Year 2011 has been generously provided by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). Through this funding, BirdLife South Africa is developing learning materials centred round this theme. These include migration, the differences between swallows, swifts and martins, resident versus migratory species and the conservation of swallows.

 

 

The Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica is a small (c. 18 g) migratory bird and is the most widespread species of swallow in the world. Its breeding range includes Europe, much of Asia, and almost the whole of North America.     

 

After the birds have bred and the northern winter approaches, the swallows migrate south. Over 100 million come to Africa, and the Barn Swallow is a widespread and common summer visitor to southern Africa. At the end of the southern summer, the journey is reversed; the swallows arriving back on their breeding grounds to coincide with the spring flush of insect food.

The Barn Swallow is well known to many South Africans, especially when the birds sit on telephone lines as they assemble before migration. Some people are also familiar with the roost sites where millions of birds congregate. 

Barn Swallows roost communally, usually in flooded Phragmites reedbeds, and an awe-inspiring sight is watching hundreds of thousands of Barn Swallows milling around a roost at dusk before they descend in to the reedbed for the night.

Some roosts house several million Barn Swallows, and the Mount Moreland roost (adjacent to King Shaka International Airport near Durban) is one of the largest and most well known roosts in South Africa.

Sasol Bird and Birding Fair 

A Report of the Event - By Angie Wilken

What a delightful surprise to be invited and sponsored by Birdlife to
attend this event.
I was so excited, so much to prepare and organize and sooner than expected it was time to catch a plane and go.
A smooth flight on a plane with a total weight mass of 64 tons, just under an hour and touch down at Lanseria Airport to be greeted by a slightly chilly JHB.

Early on Saturday morning we arrived at the zoo at 6am, still dark and frost patches whitened the grass, the weather quite different from our Mount Moreland, KZN home ground.

Time to set up and display, I was allocated a gazebo with a table and chairs. The most unusual thing about this event held in the zoo is that you have animals all around you and some of the most strangest sounds and calls could be heard throughout the day.

Before long all stand holders were set up and the public slowly started to arrive.
Most visitors that stopped at the Mount Moreland stand had already heard of or knew about our Barn Swallows and lots of them have it as an event they want to see and experience.
It was lovely to share our knowledge and destination of Barn Swallows with so many visitors.

were some really interesting exhibitors....wildlife, birding clubs and organisations, magazines, binoculars, books, bird seed and feeders, bird art, here are some of them   

All too soon the show was over and I am truly grateful and thankful for having this wonderful opportunity
and experience presented to us to showcase and promote our Barn Swallows of Mount Moreland.
Thank you Birdlife - Sasol and ACSA (Airports Company South Africa)

It really was awesome