On June 9, 2014, five young swallows flew from their nest. Three apparently left early, but two remained until mid-morning. I was able to catch both of them on video as they left the nest.

Prior to first flight the young swallows seemed to behave pretty much as they had the day before. They ate, pooped, groomed themselves, practiced flapping their wings, and observed the world that they could see. They tracked other swallows that chirped as they flew into the car port. I counted at least eight swallows at one time, so perhaps the whole swallow neighborhood had come to help. Those not flying were perched nearby.

Empty nest

Shortly after the last one flew, five youngsters and one adult perched on wires that cross the street near the house. After 15-20 minutes they flew off toward nearby fields. I think the five in the car port were the last in our neighborhood to fly. Since they left, the only swallows that I’ve seen were out near rice and barley fields. It’s pretty quiet and a little lonely around here without those noisy little birds.

Technical notes

I used an Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera and an old OM System Auto-T 200mm f4 lens (manual focus) with an OM MF-2 adapter. These video scenes were shot at ISO 800 with a shutter speed of 1/60 sec. and an aperture of f11. Two small LED lights in the car port provided some illumination from the side (LPL VL-540C on a mic stand) and back (LPL VL-136 clamped on a wall). More light, especially diffused light, would have enabled higher quality.

The 200mm lens provided a good angle and helped me stay out of the way as the swallows flew in and out and around the inside of the car port. My car, a minivan (Toyota Voxy), was backed toward the car port. I opened the gate, placed the tripod directly behind the car, and operated the camera while sitting in the back of the car. I moved the car to get the proper distance from the nest to the lens. It was a comfortable arrangement, and occasionally I saw a swallow perched on the rear window directly above my head.

Published by Greg Peterson

Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University (1977-2020). Since 1980 I have lived in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I enjoy outdoor activities, especially photography, hiking, and cycling.

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