“Blue Angels” and “Orange Angels” of Carillon Stonegate Pond
It’s a daily occurrence on Carillon Stonegate Pond and with aerial shows several times each day.
These birds are Tree Swallows (Tachycineta Bicolor) and Barn Swallows (Hirundo Rustica).
They soar over the ponds in large groups - typically from four to eight or more. They move swiftly and with great agility - avoiding each other as they search for food on the pond’s surface. They are acrobatic in their flight maneuvers - and with a deep blue coloring on their backs and white fronts, they are the avian version of the Navy’s Blue Angels – or, in the case of the Barn Swallows – “Orange Angels”.
Their flight style is called "Flap-gliding" where short bursts of flapping are alternated with intervals in which the wings are extended in a glide. Using another analogy, this squadron of birds bears resemblance to “TIE Fighters” of the Star Wars series. They chase after flying insects with gliding, acrobatic twists and turns. The steely blue-green feathers of the Tree Swallow and the brilliant orange-blue feathers of the Barn Swallow will glisten in the sunlight as they dart across Carillon Stonegate Pond. Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows tend to glide more than any other swallow species.
While the Tree Swallow is primarily seen in open, treeless areas such as over Carillon Stonegate Pond, it nests in tree cavities; hence, its name. And, the Barn Swallow? Well, barns, of course. But they build mud nests under the eaves of structures such as stables, buildings, or under bridges – and in the roof or below our gazebo! You may see them darting out throughout the day. Truly a sight to observe.
Both the Tree Swallow and Barn Swallows are migratory birds. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, they begin migrating south in July and August. They fly during the day and roost in large flocks at night. The migration of our Midwestern flocks generally follows the Mississippi River southward. And they return to Carillon Stonegate Pond in April.