One of the surest signs of spring at Howell Living History Farm is the arrival of the Barn Swallows – those little iridescent blue birds who travel all the way from South America to build their nests in the beams above the horse stalls.
“Barn Swallows are insectivores, they only eat insects. This species primary source of food is flies. Their eating habits are beneficial – they keep the barnyard free of pesky flies,” said Rogers. “If you’re a farmer – or a horse – you hold them in very high regard.”
The program, “Naturally Friends: Farmers and Barn Swallows,” is part of a series focused on the beneficial relationships that exist between farmers and the birds, bees and other wildlife that live in the fields, woods pastures and barns where farmers raise their crops and animals.
“I hope they arrive on time,” said Rogers.
There’s good reason to expect they will. The farm’s Program Coordinator, Kathy Brilla, has tracked their arrival for the past 18 years, logging landings between April 9 and April 22. Ten occurred on the 18th or earlier.
Besides a visit to barns where swallows are nesting, the walking tours include opportunities to meet the workhorses and other animals who enjoy the swallows' protection.