A Mystery Swarm Draws Dozens of Birds

A personal story from Jesse Barraza, a Talkin' Birds Ambassador from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

A couple of weeks ago during dinner, our 3-year-old daughter suddenly told us to look out the window at many birds flying in the backyard. We are used to seeing a lot of birds because we have two bird feeders—one filled with nyjer and the other with safflower. But this time it wasn’t our usual guests coming in for a snack. We glanced outside, then went out of the house, to witness at least 50 birds swooping back and forth in the backyard. Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows were having a feast—and a couple of Chimney Swifts had tagged along, too.

Small insects were hatching from the lawn. We could see the swarm coming out of the ground and into the air. We saw a dragonfly feasting on them ow to the ground, and I hope it didn’t end up part of the feast itself.

I have no idea what type of insect was swarming. They seemed smaller than a house fly, but we couldn’t make them out and we did not want to disturb the birds by going closer. Do any of you know what these insects might be?

The feast lasted for a good 20 or 30 minutes. It seemed that the swallows knew exactly where to be at the right time. We are looking forward to this experience again, should this be an annual spectacle.