Tag Archives: Star Island

The bird stars of Star Island

Barn Swallow

The Barn Swallow is pretty much the iconic bird of Star Island.

Highly visible (and audible), it swoops and soars and perches charmingly on railings and banisters and builds its nests under the very large porch of the grand old Oceanic Hotel. You can easily observe this bird from a porch rocking chair.

Barn Swallow

What a pretty bird!

barn swallow

Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

Glistening cobalt blue above and tawny below, Barn Swallows dart gracefully over fields, barnyards, and open water in search of flying insect prey. Look for the long, deeply forked tail that streams out behind this agile flyer and sets it apart from all other North American swallows.

barn swallow

Barn Swallows have a steely blue back, wings, and tail, and rufous to tawny underparts. The blue crown and face contrast with the cinnamon-colored forehead and throat.

Cinnamon! I can just about taste these colors.

barn swallow

Barn Swallows feed on the wing, snagging insects from just above the ground or water to heights of 100 feet or more. They fly with fluid wingbeats in bursts of straight flight, rarely gliding, and can execute quick, tight turns and dives.

“If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be?” my daughter thought it was fun to keep asking me that.

Well, I really can’t think of a bird I am most like, or most relate to, but I can think of birds I would like to be for a day. Barn Swallow is one, just to fly like they fly. Also, not to anthropomorphize too much, but they seem like happy birds.

barn swallow

Both male and female Barn Swallows sing a “twitter-warble” song during courtship and egg-laying, with a long series of continuous warbling sounds followed by up to a dozen rapid, mechanical-sounding whirrs.


Our birding trip to Star Island last weekend was focused mainly on migrating warblers, but I couldn’t help observing and admiring the Barn Swallows too!

A buttery yelllow bird

yellow warbler

Looking up at a Yellow Warbler on Star Island last weekend.

North America has more than 50 species of warblers, but few combine brilliant color and easy viewing quite like the Yellow Warbler. In summer, the buttery yellow males sing their sweet whistled song from willows, wet thickets, and roadsides across almost all of North America.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warblers nest on Star Island, one of the Isles of Shoals off our coast.

Look for Yellow Warblers near the tops of tall shrubs and small trees. They forage restlessly, with quick hops along small branches and twigs to glean caterpillars and other insects.

We also saw migrating warblers like Magnolia Warblers, Northern Parulas, Black-throated Green Warblers and Wilson’s Warblers. And many other birds too!

banded Yellow Warbler

This Yellow Warbler was banded, probably on the banding station next island over – Appledore Island.

More on our our especially birdy weekend coming up in a few more posts.

Photos from a Spring Birding Weekend are on Flickr HERE.