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Barn Swallow Research

Barn swallows are small, acrobatic birds that are common and well-studied throughout North America. Historically, the birds nested in caves and on cliffs, but now nests on structures such as barns, houses, or bridges. The birds use wet mud to construct their nests, which are always stuck to the side of a flat structure, like a wall or cliff.

One research project focused on two unusual barn swallow nests found along the Donner und Blitzen River at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Frenchglen. These nests, possibly constructed by the same pair of birds, was built, uniquely, at the end of a dead branch overhanging a river. The nests were composed of round balls of mud stuck together and adhered on one side to the branch. The birds laid eggs in the nest, but these disappeared during observation, possibly due to a predator. Barn swallows normally nest on flat, stable substrates, but the nearest available structure, a small shed, was located more than 4 miles from the site of these nests. Researchers believe that competition for choice nest locations is high in this area of the state, and contributed to the unusual location and construction of these nests.

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