Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 Bridge Swallows

Head down to a boat marina around the Chesapeake Bay during the spring/summer season and you’ll likely find a colony of Barn Swallows, swooping the air and water for insects, or perched on the dock lines or boats lookin’ pretty.

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Barn Swallow (male)


I received an e-bird alert over the summer that there were Cliff Swallows under the Rt. 328 bridge crossing the Tuckahoe Creek, a tributary off the Choptank River near us.  The Cliff Swallows would be a new addition to my bird lifer list if I could capture one.

After two trips by boat, hanging around/under that bridge and taking a bunch of photos, I was disappointed that I couldn’t ID any Cliff Swallows, even after pouring through my images later to make sure.  Several times!

However, there was a large colony of Barn Swallows and I did note one male Tree Swallow.

The Cliff Swallow looks very similar to the Barn Swallow in coloring but has an added white patch on its forehead, the white patch that was missing in all my Swallow photos.

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Barn Swallows surrounding a Tree Swallow (in the center)


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Barn Swallows chillin’


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Barn Swallows and one Tree Swallow


What was neat was seeing the Barn Swallows’ nests as we passed under the bridge.  Barn Swallows use mud to create their nest, mixing it with grass stems to make pellets.

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Barn Swallow nest under Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 bridge


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Barn Swallow nest under Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 bridge
(sorry bad photo, rocking boat)


I wish I could have gotten more/better photos of their nests but the current was always swift while maneuvering the boat.

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Barn Swallow nest under Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 bridge


Of course, I was bummed in not photographing the Cliff Swallow and getting to add them to my lifer list, but I did take notice and got this next photo of a Cliff Swallow’s nest amongst the Barn Swallow nests.

Notice how the Cliff Swallow adds a tube to their nest, making it look more like an enclosed gourd.  Proof the Cliff Swallow was present here somewhere!

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Cliff Swallow nest under Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 bridge


How pretty to see Swallows perch so elegantly on a line….

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Barn Swallows


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Barn Swallows and one Tree Swallow


The swallows have all since migrated from the area to their wintering grounds in Central and South America, so I missed my opportunity this year on the Cliff Swallow.

Hopefully next Spring the Cliff Swallows will return to the bridge…… and so will I if I’m able to.  My lifer list awaits!  🙂



37 thoughts on “Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 Bridge Swallows

  1. What a lovely post Donna showcasing your cute swallows, you have such a variety there in your land. We mainly only see the Welcome Swallow here. Great to have you back, I have wondered how you are in your absence. Have a wonderful week!.

  2. Photographing swallows is not so easy, unless they are on a wire of some kind. They move at a fast pace making it hard to focus. You’ve done very well I see! Good work my friend. 🙂

  3. Lovely photos of the tree swallow and the barnies, Donna. Come visit me in Colorado next summer, not only could we see those two AND the cliff swallows, but also bank, violet-green, and northern rough-winged swallows. Alas, all of them have moved south, and I already miss them. It will be a long winter!

    • Thank you, Tanja! I have seen and photographed the violet-green, how gorgeous is that one, wow! We camped where they were in abundance by a river. I would love to see/photograph the bank and NRW too. 🙂 Some day!

  4. Beautiful photos Donna! I’m sorry you didn’t get to see your cliff swallow – but that gives you something to ‘shoot’ for, next year! I had an interesting experience with barn swallows on our dock and boat lift last summer. I went down to the dock to photograph the morning sun and suddenly noticed a whole swarm of barn swallows on our boat. I took a ton of photos, needless to say. I know that we usually have some barn swallows nesting under our dock, but I had never seen this many gathered at one time. I have no idea whether they were ‘locals’ or an early batch migrating through and resting in the morning sun. Some things we just never know — we just keep on ‘shooting’.

    • Thank you, Susan! We win some, we lose some, lol. All in the fun! I know when the babies are born, our boat dock seemed 10X the swallows. They are born in May but don’t leave the nest for almost three weeks. Not knowing what month you were talking in the summer, could be a couple things. 🙂

  5. Great shots, even if they weren’t what you hoped for… swallows are extremely hard for me to catch because they always seem to be swooping going 100 mph! Busy little critters! 😀

  6. I like swallows looping and swirling around in flight, though hard to shoot, in my experience. I get a kick out of spotting the one Tree swallow amongst the others and glad you posted the images of the nests so I can use that information to I.D. them in the future. I like seeing the photos to I.D. them and observe how they interact with one another in their colonies. Appreciate you mentioning that white patch on the forehead of the cliff swallows, I will check this out next spring.

    • Swallows are so darn entertaining with their acrobatic flying, it is a real challenge to capture them in flight for me too. And I tried a lot this summer, lol, decided it was more fun just watching them. 🙂 I think the Tree Swallow was flirting with me, he seemed to be the only one who was watching me in the photos.

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