Shell Game

Tree Swallow looking for a meal. They don’t stick around for long. Wish it had a better head turn.

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Technical Details

iso 320, 200-600 at 600, f7.1, 2000th, 75% full frame


Uncooperative beestie! Still a nice look at those iridescent feathers though. I wonder if she’s looking for shell scraps to replenish the bone many (possibly all) female birds grow to use to make egg shells. I know birds will often pick at bones in the woods for this very reason and so makes it all the more important to leave remains where they are. Other small critters use them as calcium sources, too. It’s a little grisly, but nothing is wasted.

I was thinking the same thing as Kris, David. We put out crushed oyster shells for the birds and all species of swallows seem to really go for them. Oddly, the males are just as avid for them as the females. The ones sold for chickens are too large, so Michelle crushes them again.

Oh. Excellent detail and iridescence and interesting behavior.

Great behavior shot David. Yep, a better head turn and light on the face would be better but, you get what they give you and this gal was just uncooperative I guess. Still a neat image and I agree with @Kris_Smith and @Dennis_Plank about the calcium or whatever nutrients they are looking for. Terrific irridecense.

Wonderful capture! I love the detail and iridescence. Those shells look really hard to chew. I never thought about wild birds needing grits – I should start saving egg shells and crushing them. I’ve been throwing them in the compost, where they are probably not contributing anything except maybe some aeration.

Very nice behavior shot. Calcium is a benefit to the swallow for sure. I have only seen tree swallows going after sticks in the Midwest…Jim

@Jim_Zablotny Tree Swallows also love feathers for their nests. If you are around them when they’re building, toss a handful of old pillow feathers in the air, and they grab them on the fly (which I’ve never managed to photograph).