20 Jan 2015 Barn Swallows in Denmark: Only 3 months to go. Svend

Barn Swallow in flight Denmark

3 September 2014 Denmark: Almost ready to leave by Svend Jørgensen.

Barn Swallow Sept 2014 Denmark

29 August 2014 Denmark: Barn Swallow flight lessons by Svend Jørgensen.

Denmark: Barn Swallow flight lessons by Svend Jørgensen.

21 August 2014 Denmark: Babies still in the nest by Svend Jørgensen.

Barn Swallow Chicks Denmark 2014

Barn Swallows in Denmark | 15 July 2014 Denmark: and now the Barn Swallow chicks begin to venture outside the nest, by Svend Jørgensen.

Denmark Baby Barn Swallows are getting bigger
Denmark Baby Barn Swallows are getting bigger

6 August 2014 Denmark: Just a couple of Pics: The mother is waiting patiently for me to get my picture, so that she can feed her babies. by Svend Jørgensen.

Barn Swallows Denmark 2014
Barn Swallows Denmark 2014

14 July 2014 Denmark: Baby Barn Swallows are getting bigger and they are very hungry, keeping Mum and Dad very busy with the feeding. by Svend Jørgensen.

Barn Swallows leave the nest - Denmark 2014
Barn Swallows leave the nest - Denmark 2014
Barn Swallows leave the nest - Denmark 2014

2 July 2014 Denmark: A pair of Barn Swallow chicks by Svend Jørgensen.

Denmark A pair of Barn Swallow chicks by Svend Jørgensen

28 May 2014 Denmark: Barn Swallows at high speed. Photos by Svend Jørgensen.

Barn Swallows at high speed
Barn Swallow in flight

26 May 2014 Denmark: ‘We’re making mud for the Barn Swallows’,by Svend Jørgensen.

making mud for Barn Swallows

25 May 2014 Denmark: Yesterday we had a lot of rain = More mud for nest building. Photo’s by Svend Jørgensen.

Denmark Barn Swallows in the mud
Denmark Barn Swallows in the mud
Denmark Barn Swallows in the mud

20 May 2014 Denmark: Barn Swallows in flight by Svend Jørgensen.

Denmark: Barn Swallows in flight
Denmark: Barn Swallows in flight

9 May 2014 Denmark:  Barn Swallow in flight and roosting By Svend Jørgensen

Denmark: Barn Swallow in flight
Denmark: Barn Swallow roosting

26 April 2014 Denmark: Image of first Barn Swallow of the season
by Svend Jørgensen

Barn Swallow arrival Denmark 2014

Barn Swallows in Denmark | 27 Sept 2013 Svendborg, Denmark:The barn swallows left Svendborg City the 21stSeptember 2013 a bit earlier than last year. Last Swallows in DenmarkI saw young birds foraging in larger groups above the city roofs both the 19th and 20th. Adult birds have been gone for a week or more. Yesterday morning, September 21, the young birds gathered again and all started a sort of nervous flight around the biggest trees to catch insects and the suddenly all began heading south. I big moment. Happy to seem them healthy and strong at the beginning of their long travel, but also a bit sad that this was the end of a fantastic swallow season with many happy moments. From my study of the population within and around Svendborg City the overall population experienced an increase in breeding couples of 25.7% compared to numbers in 2012. The production of chicks was increased by 17.8% compared to last year. I guess this must be a result of good conditions last year in their winter quarters in Africa and a warm summer here with excellent foraging possibilities. The general increase in the breeding output though covers a decline in breeding couples and number of chicks at cattle farms of 3.2% and 12.8% respectively. The lower reproductive output mainly being a result of the very hot summer, which resulted in overheating of eggs and chicks situated in nests close to asbestos-cements roofs.

I attach a photo of the last chicks in Svendborg City that fledged September 13, and now are on their way towards South Africa. A fantastic breeding and migration cycle these beautiful birds have. Best regards Peter Teglhøj

13 September 2013 Denmark: Found this poster a couple of years ago. Svend
Barn Swallows in Denmark

11 September 2013 Denmark: Just a few words from Denmark. This year has been the best “Barn Swallow year” ever. I’ve never seen my barn so dirty but I don´t care as long as “my” birds are doing great. I´m not sure how many Barn Swallows I have produced this year but compared to last year I would say around +50%. As you can see on the picture, we still have some babies in our barn.
Have a nice day, Svend

last Barm Swallow babies in Denmark

5 Sept 2013 Svendborg, Denmark: From mid to late August 2013 most 2nd brood barn swallow chicks in the Svendborg area fledged and are now leaving the breeding areas to begin their South bound migration. But still quite a large proportion of the swallows that I study are leaving their nests in September. The proportion of “late broods” has increased from 13.9% last year to approximately 17.4% this year. The weather in Denmark has been nice for a longer period, and the  weather forecast for the coming week looks pretty good from a swallow perspective with nice temperatures and no or just a little rain. So survival chances looks OK for these late birds.
I attach a couple of photos of late breeding Barn Swallow from Svendborg City.
Best regards Peter Teglhøj

Barn Swallows late breeding Svendborg - Denmark
Barn Swallows late breeding Svendborg - Denmark

12 July 2013 Svendborg,Denmark: Right now most of the first broods have fledged in the Svendborg area (Denmark) and some Barn swallow couples have started egg laying again. I am happy to tell that compared to last year the number of breeding pairs have raised by 21,9% in this area. So the swallows must have had “good time” during their stay in South Africa. Whether this increase in Barn swallow numbers is a local trend or a common increase for Denmark needs to be further investigated. The breeding season started very well with fine weather and a lot of insects, but 3 days of constant rain by the end of June had a heavy impact on the nestlings especially within Svendborg City. Broods of 5-6 nestlings were reduced by 50% or more, some broods did not survive at all. In the city periphery and at cattle and pig farms survival was better. Best regards Peter Teglhøj

Svendborg Denmark Barn Swallows
Svendborg Denmark Barn Swallows
4 June 2013 Svendborg, Denmark : The first barn swallow chicks have now hatched and fortunately the weather is nice and warm so there should be plenty of insects to feed on. However, most of the barn swallows are still sitting on their eggs the breeding cycle being about 2 weeks later this year. Hopefully, they will manage to raise 2 broods before they leave again in September.
Best regards Peter Teglhøj
Barn Swallow babies

Barn Swallows in Denmark | 24 May 2013 Svendborg Denmark : Barn swallows are a bit later this year in their breeding cycle. Approximately half of the couples in the Svendborg City Center and city borders are now incubating their eggs, the rest are finishing their nests and laying their eggs. It has been pretty cold lately, with heavy rain some days and not many insects to feed on. So we can only hope for warmer conditions in June where the 1st clutches have to be raised. I attach a couple of Photos of Barn Swallows in their nests and eggs in a nest. Best regards Peter Teglhøj

Barn Swallows breeding
Barn Swallows breeding
Barn Swallows breeding

3 September 2012 Denmark: In a week or so last babies will be airborne

September Barn Swallow babies Denmark

29 June 2011 Barn Swallow Chicks By Svend Jørgensen

Finally Barn Swallow chicks…….. Don´t know how many…….
Barn Swallow chicks
Barn Swallow chicks

6 August 2011 Baby Barn Swallows getting bigger By Svend Jørgensen

Barn swallow babies, second brood at approximately one week old

The second brood getting bigger
When Will They Arrive? By Kurt Servé Barn Swallows kurt

Sun has struggled over the horizon. The first heat greets me here this morning in early September. There is a slight haze over the landscape. I can just see Keld’s Cove lighthouse Drude east. A flock of geese coming behind me out of the water. They fly in a wide range of low altitude over the water. A flock of barnacle geese fly over the west. On the way to where?

The first birds come in waves from the forest below and disappear over my head. I sit here at the top of the cliff with good views far to the north of Langeland.
And then finally a few swallows. Country Barn Swallows. They hesitate a little but then they continue. Most are drawn south. Perhaps these here from northern Norway. They have already been a while along the way, migrating.

Soon all the swallows gone. Fall turns into winter. There is now a long time before we can say: “Then the swallows are arriving, now spring is coming, “But let us turn things upside down. Not so literally, but a little. Somewhere else are they waiting for the Barn Swallows. They are waiting for their spring to come. That they can say “Now the Barn Swallows are here.”

Ornithological Society of South Africa asking for years people to report when they see the first barn swallow. Country Valentine has been voted the year’s bird. It happens in a program called: Help us disc skip. I can then just tell them that now most of “our” Barn Swallows will be gone. I have actually done so. I have written to South Africa that they are heading their way. In return, the society down there promised to write to me when the first swallows are seen. That such a sighting be around late October and into November.

Barn Swallow in winter quarters in South Africa “Our swallows’ must pay back about 10.000 km! Ringing has shown that some of our swallows end up in South Africa. You know which routes the Barn Swallows follow to the south. One goes down over Spain to cross the Mediterranean at Gibraltar. One goes over the Alps (where several million in 1974 was stopped by an early winter and died) and down through

Barn Swallows

Italy and across the Mediterranean to North Africa. There has been records of ringed swallows showing that “our” swallows can use both routes. But the same swallow flies probably the same way each year it lives.

So far so good. They have now completed approx. 2500 km. in a straight line.

Ahead of him is the harsh conditions of the Sahara. You may cross it without too much hesitation. One of those sudden sandstorms will become death for many of them. Others die of thirst or lack of nourishment. People down there in the desert cities look to the sky. They think enough like us.

When the Sahara is crossed, there are still 4 to 5 thousand km. ahead. A swallow ringed in Nigeria has been genmeldt in Jutland. So some words come this way. Equator crossing. Below is Savannah with elephants and giraffes began to be replaced by rain forest. I wonder if the gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo notice the Barn Swallows up there when they fly over. Or what about the residents of Katanga? I wonder if they say: We are heading towards spring. As the data below show ringing records,the Danish Barn Swallows follow this path.

Barn Swallow: The label on 25.09.1998 at Husby Lake, Ulfborg, Jutland by ringing 420 Niels Ulrich
Pedersen. Genmeldt d. 26.09.2001 at Kasaar, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo.

So there is now “only” passing Angola Barn Swallows to reach Namibia and South Africa.

Barn Swallow ringed in Bloemfontein, South Africa 01.03.2003 as 2K + He. Recaptures by Willy Mardal by Kobberø, Vestervig, Thy 26.06.2005.

The long journey is over. Millions of swallows have been on the road from the north. It is estimated that “Over summer” about 100,000,000 Barn Swallows live in South Africa.!

In large flocks for the night. Thousands and thousands – hundreds of thousands. It is not enough. Together with other Barn Swallow migrants they reach up to 3,000,000 in number. Barn Swallows sleeping there at Mount Moreland, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

Barn Swallows in Denmark | The summer of the south calls – Photos and Story by Kurt Servé

Barn Swallows - The summer of the south callsThe first rays of sun appear in the distance. It warms a bit. In the forest below bird voices can be heard. Soon small flocks are ranging up from down there. It’s fascinating each time. This is Eternal River of time. Birds come and birds go – they fly!

I sit here on a late August day on top of Keld’s Nord.  I have been here many times throughout the years. The first year I was very interested in recognizing the voices of the birds that flew overhead. Now it’s more the wonder that happens here every year. It is just to be here. It is just watching and wondering.

So now it sounds a series of pink-pink-pink. A small flock of chaffinches is flying low and disappears into the sea to the south. I follow them with my eyes. No, they give up and come back. It’s not quite dark yet. The sun has now completely left the horizon out there to the east. Nice warmth reaches me. I dig into my backpack, and take out my thermos to have a nice hot drink of tea and a small bag of freshly buttered bread. Imagine sitting here in this great drama with a cup of hot tea and crunchy bread!

I look at the sea again. Away from the east by Keld Nor comes a flock of seabirds. They are fast approaching in a long row. Close to the sea. Its eiders, Black – white birds but they are not on their way south. They just move around among the good mussels.Barn Swallows - The summer of the south calls

Pink-pink-pink it sounds again. A flock of chaffinches are coming from the forest. There is a lot of” small birds down there. Many different voices mingle in the choir. Chaffinches are coming close over me and disappear into the slight haze over the sea. They do not come back. A trip to the south has begun.

And then there’s some viddevit, vittevit ..

It’s a flock of barn swallows. They know exactly which way to fly. I can easily see the long forked tails. Some of them have not got such long outer tail feathers. The Ban Swallow chicks from this year say “Goodbye and see you. And hello there. “I shall send a message that you have gone from here” – I say. I wonder where they come from? Have they been breeding on top of Norway or the North Sea land. And where are they going now? That’s how it has happened for millenniums back towards the end of the ice age. Well, we do not think that the barn swallow has immigrated until the Iron Age. Originally it has built its nest on cliffs, in caves and canyons. So not until man made” man-made cliffs” such as houses and Barns were constructed they became regular guests.

In South Africa it is also called the Barn Swallow. For us, the barn swallow has many names – depending on the region they live in and the qualities we gave them. One of these namesBarn Swallows - The summer of the south calls was funny enough barn swallow. But there were many others: entrance swallow, field swallow, peasant swallow and on the island Drejø they called it the blue swallow.

For some time I have been in contact with the Ornithological Society of South Africa, They have promised me to let me know when the first “announcers of spring” arrive there. Oops! Wasn’t that nonsense? They are announcers of spring here in Denmark! Yes, well that’s what they are! But when they reach South Africa, it is spring down there, and summer waits! It may give you something to think of. The barn swallow is not just our announcer of spring. So it is in South Africa!! Exactly!!

However, the difference is that the Barn Swallow only breeds with us. In South Africa’s the barn swallow is The 2011 bird of the year. They invite everyone to tell when they have seen the very first barn swallows arriving.

It’s just the right day.

One flock of birds after the other comes from the north. Most prefer to migrate above the sea and disappear to the south. Far away lays Femern, Invisible to the birds for a while. But instinct and memory lead them. Yes, for some it must certainly be instinct. The young cuckoos are only starting to travel now. They find their way themselves. It is the same for the Barn Swallow; the first swallows appear in late October or November, while the young ones do not appear until a month later.

 I lay down and stare into the sky. My thoughts walk north. I think of a day in April this year. I arrived in Mykines by helicopter a few days earlier. Now I have fought my way up over the mountain and am on “the high mountains”. It is blowing like hell. But I have made up my mind to get all the way to the north side. From there I shall have a nice view on the West Manna. I would like to make a few sketches there. Then I can paint one of them in the evening. I have made a stop at a steep canyon. I stand at an appropriate distance from the edge. Deep down I can see the sea dashing against the rocks and send large sea sprays into the air. There comes a thundering rumble up through the gorge. In between comes a fulmar flying. I am shaken by some strong gusts of wind. Puh ha. But Hey! What was that? It looked then like a swallow. ..! No it cannot be. I have not seen the Barn Swallows yet at home. “Vitttevit. Vittevit ,it sounds and a barn swallow sweeps close to me. I have flown across the North Atlantic and then by helicopter to Mykines. And what do I see? A barn swallow. What a trip. A new gust of wind forces me to my knees. Puh ha. I have managed to get some sketches and also a special experience.

A couple of weeks later at home I saw the first barn swallow. It was alone here for some days. But then some more arrived. Soon they had built a nest by our neighbors – in the fruit house and garage. Two couples and the result of that were 14 chicks. They each got 5 kids. One set of chicks were ringed. They were: Numbers … 9J82936 – 9J82940

I shall send the numbers to the Ornithological Society of South Africa and inform them that the Barn Swallows have left Denmark. In return they have promised to tell when the first swallows arrived in South Africa. Later I shall write about it in our local paper

Barn Swallows - The summer of the south callsThe ring numbers are now symbolic. When you ringed about a thousand, just one might be found down there! A Danish-ringing William Glick Aarestrup got 14 of his ringed swallows returned in the fall of the 1974, it was quite unusual. Winter came early that year. Snowstorms swept the Alps. Millions of swallows could not get over the mountains and were weakened everywhere. People managed to collect more than 200,000. They created an “air bridge “Using the airlines, they were transported to the Mediterranean where they were released and the journey could continue. But millions died then.

Some of Williams ringed Barn Swallows which in the summer were caught in Pandora, this proved that Danish swallows in autumn can pull through the migration through the Alps on their journey to Africa’s hot climate. It was not known previously.

Anyway, back to Langeland and present! Barn Swallows - The summer of the south calls

There are still several Barn Swallows from the North Country. They’ve been further up on Langeland. They stay at lakes and ponds, where they sleep in the reeds. If you are lucky you can experience “mass display” when they settle down for the night. So black sun with swallows and not starlings.

In the old days, one also saw Barn Swallows come to the lakes and retire to the reed beds. Next morning they were gone. And they appeared first the next spring. What could the explanation be otherwise than that they winter or hibernate at the bottom of the lakes? “One autumn day the swallows sitting near the shore of a lake or marsh. Suddenly they lie on their backs, flapping their wings, glide along the reeds and sink to the bottom. “Or” They lie dormant in lakes, ponds, bogs, silt or under mounds at the lake, each with a leaf or straw in its beak. They lie on their backs with wings widen out and if you turn them, they die. (People and Fauna)

There is a long journey ahead. For some, about 10,000 km. They fly up to 300 km per day!

And what about food? It is so wisely arranged that flies by day. Instead of flying around and around in an area they have set the course towards the south. Along the way, they seek food and shelter.

I stare back into the air pressing the binoculars to your eyes and what? In the sky is a great, great turn of buzzards. They glide slowly to the south. Constantly hovering wings of buoyancy. It’s an amazing sight. They now have only a short journey ahead. The sun warms now really good. It is approaching noon. There are not many birds anymore. The morning departure is over. Tomorrow starts a new one. If the weather permits!

The summer of the south was published in the Danish News Paper: Fyns Amts Avis. 12.9.2011

2 June 2011 Barn Swallow Nest with a Helping Hand By Svend Jørgensen

It has been cold weather, so the breeding season has just started. In 1 or 2 weeks they will have their first chicks… I hope.

But I don´t know how many nests I have this year, can´t find them all!

Thought that they would use the same nests as last year… but no…
Except 2 or 3 pairs they all have made new nests…. Had to help some of them a bit
Barn Swallow nest with a helping hand

News from Denmark, Europe Barn Swallows   

October 04. 2010. Finally the last couple of Barn Swallows seem to have left our local area and started their migration to South Africa. The majority went away about 3 weeks ago. 

Our interest in Barn Swallows started 7 years ago when we bought an old farm. We found out that 12-20 birds every year built nests – or used the old ones – in our barn. 3 years ago when we build a shelter for our horses, some of the birds moved to the shelter. This year we have had 4 nests living in perfect harmony with the horses. The rest of the swallows still live in the barn. 

This year we have had 8 couples to reproduce. They have made around 50 chicks.  

It is a very special feeling when the first barn swallow appears. This year it happened early in the morning on the 24.of April. He flew in circles around the the main building whistling his happy song. Can´t wait to hear it again. Unfortunately we have to wait a long cold Danish winter until it happens.  Svend Jørgensen

baby swallows
baby swallows
Baby barn swallows