Wildlife in India

Monumental Swallow Birds of Madhya Pradesh

Monumental Swallow Birds of Madhya Pradesh

Streak throated swallows(Petrochelidon fluvicola) are one of the four species of swallow birds found in Madhya Pradesh, indentified as 11 cm compact birds with chestnut crowns and brown streaks down the throat to breast and dirty off-white under parts. The juveniles look similar to wire tailed swallow juv. and can be only differentiated from their striped and non striped throats respectively. The birds are commonly seen in the open country, near water bodies, canals, rivers or lakes where they can easily find their food of insects and clay for building nests. Swallows are found in big flocks and have an appealing nesting behavior, commonly called as swallow congregations.

Swallow Nest
Streak throated Swallow- Nesting Site on the underside of a river bridge, waded by over hundred swallows. The picture was taken on the road towards Kanha, Madhya Pradesh.
The streak throated swallow, is found across India. It can be identified with its chestnut color head, broad tail with a small fork and heavily streaked throat, neck and breast. The under parts are off white.

Together the male and female laboriously create monumental structures of sand and clay, where they brood their eggs into fledglings. In a weak fluttering flight the parents get sand, particle by particle, mixing it with saliva to shape a funnel like house carefully around the underside of river bridges, even ledges or eaves to protect it from the ‘threats’ from predators and beatings of the weather. The base is kept with a mix of feather and grass fixed with clay and moist sand. The nests are gourd shape with a small circular opening, spacious enough to accommodate 2-3 fledglings and parents.

Swallow Nesting
Each bird does infinite small trips from the field to the nest, when they trap insects in their wings in order to feed their young ones which occasionally pop out their heads from small nest openings in anticipation. 

Swallows nest only for a specific purpose of sheltering the young. The birds are commonly seen hawking for insects from the open fields, where they trap them in their wings and return to the nest after every trip to feed the young. The parents can be seen fluttering outside their nest at regular intervals as a way to teach aerial skills to the young ones.

Nest Building
The birds use a mixture of grass, feathers which are fixed together with clay and moist soil at initial stages of nest building. It takes around two weeks time for the nest to become liveable, as per the likes of the small bird.

Nests or Pests?

With the open country for birds being quickly replaced with houses and buildings everywhere these birds have retorted to our kitchen gardens, where they feed on small insects and nest around houses. Swallow nesting is considered ‘pests’ due to its gregarious behavior and limiting access of humans to their own garages or kitchen gardens. Swallows can be very protective for the young ones and refuse to vacate even after repeated attempts. Once the nest is built, the bird also tends to return at the same site every time for breeding and nesting. The solution lies in preserving their habitat of lakes, rivers and ponds around the agricultural land. If possible allow them a small corner around the house, warehouse etc. Swallows can easily gain attention and help in clearing insects and small crop pests, in lieu of the space it needs to raise the young!

Courtesy : Vineeta Yadav

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