Tree Swallows Swarm at Lake Kissimmee


Sometimes you come across a scene in nature and you just stare in amazement. That’s what happened to me in mid-February when I visited Joe Overstreet Road. I was hoping to catch the Ross’s Goose, so when I came to the lake and didn’t see it, I was a little disappointed. Until I saw something better: a giant flock of Tree Swallows! Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time…and then the dilemma is, which lens do you use first?

It was the largest flock of Tree Swallows I’ve ever seen up close. It reminded me of the murmuration that Dyeyo and I saw a few years ago in Ruskin. Literally thousands of birds were flying around the lake shore, circling the fields and diving for insects.

Dyeyo used to wonder if Tree Swallows ever landed. Well, yep, they do!

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow. One of the few portraits with a clean background from over 1,000 images!

Quite a few of them perched in the grassy field as the birds swarmed over their heads. After shooting some video with my iPhone, then with my intermediate telephoto, I settled down with my Beast to try to make some close-up images. You’d think that would be easy with literally thousands of subjects to choose from. Not exactly, with all the birds whizzing by. It took some patience and fast focusing to zero in on particular behaviors, like this swallow dive-bombing an insect in mid-air…

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow Catches Insect in Mid-air

…or what appeared to be juveniles, lined up on a branch and waiting for Mom to show up to feed them. As soon as she flew by, all the beaks opened wide! “Me, me, pick me!!”

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow Juveniles Beg for a Bug

Every once in a while I’d look up in amazement. Or surprise, when the poop landed on my camera! It’s hard to do justice to this kind of a scene. I mean, how often do you look up and see the sky literally filled with birds?

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallows Fill the Skies

I tried isolating them in flight. That’s such a challenge when they fly so fast and change direction very quickly. I got a few keepers. :)

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow in Flight

It was more fun to photograph the interactions between the individual birds. These two birds kept poking at each other. Somehow in that giant field with thousands of companions, I think the right one invaded the left one’s personal bubble!

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallows Bickering

I don’t know all that much about swallows, but I have a feeling these birds are preparing for their spring migration. I spent the morning in complete amazement, and it peaked when I saw a pair of them mate right in front of me. Spring is definitely here!!

Tree Swallows Ensuring the Survival of the Species ;-)

Want to learn more about nature photography at Joe Overstreet Road?

Check out my Joe Overstreet Road page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!

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