A tip of the cap and big thank you to Steve Kinder for his generosity last evening. I experienced the Swallow extravaganza near the Swan Lake National Refuge.  

It was a very clear, windless, 72 degree evening - perfect conditions for viewing.  Steve had been scouting the swallows for several evenings prior so it was likely we were in the right place.  The swallows use the corn fields in the area to roost for the night.  Once the farmers harvest the corn the swallows will be gone.  They are Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows. 

As Steve predicted - they usually arrive between 7:00 and 7:30.  We arrived around 6:40 pm in the distance we observed swallows and black bird flocks that numbered several thousand - normally that would be a lot of swallows, at least to me.

As time went on we could see swallows gathering high in the sky - at approximately 7:05 - just as the sun was completely setting the sky became black with swallows.  It was one of those experiences that you just can't quite take in what you are seeing, my immediate thought was, "oh my where are these birds coming from?"  I didn't quite know what area of the sky to focus on - they were everywhere you looked.  Circling, swirling in mass - maybe 7:15 it started to rain swallows - they were just dropping from the sky at what seemed to be supersonic speed. I'm not exaggerating when I say "raining swallows." They just dive straight-down.  At 7:25 this true spectacle of nature was over. 
There is no way to estimate how many birds there were - I don't think I'm exaggerating in saying 1-2 million birds - who knows.  

I learned this event has been observed yearly sometime between Sept. and Oct. for the past 20 years. The birder who originally discovered this phenomena those many years ago was with us last evening - just a pleasure to hear the story and other stories associated with the swallows.  There were four from Columbia who also came to see the swallows. 

Needless to say this was one of those birding experiences I'll remember for a long time to come - I feel very fortunate to have experienced a true spectacle of nature - a special evening indeed. 

Ev Luecke
Troy, MO.

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