Tree Swallows Meet for Morning Coffee

March 28, 2016

I’ve been meaning to check out Binder Lake, just west of Jefferson City, for horned grebes and other interesting critters, so I finally drove down this morning. Departure was at 4:30 and I pulled in to the McDonalds at Jeff for some coffee about 30 minutes before sunrise. As I walked through the door I was greeted by a clutch of retirees, all in a great mood and ready to start another day in paradise. One of them asked me how I was doing, and I replied that I was great! I was in a hurry to get to the site, as usual, so I didn’t stick around to talk to the friendly group. As I waited for my coffee, I wondered what would drive a person to meet with friends every morning, just for the sake of socializing. Don’t get me wrong; I do fine in social settings, but I usually have a reason, such as a motorcycle ride or a birdwatching trip, that serves as a catalyst for my social activities.

When I pulled into the shorebird area at Binder Lake, the sun was just edging over the horizon. The shorebird area, which is just below the dam, is surrounded by about 35 tree swallow houses. The houses are a great attraction because I immediately saw 40 – 50 tree swallows in various stages of activity, including moving in to their new homes, skimming the water for insects, and participating in, shall we say, amorous activity. But the behavior that struck me the most was the morning gathering on a perch that had been placed out in the center of the wetland. Not unlike the retirees from McDonalds, the swallows were having a glorious morning meeting, chirping it up about the new day that awaited them. The activity put a smile on my face and it wasn’t long before the light was just right to make the featured image of about 40 swallows having their morning coffee at Binder Lake Shorebird Area.



A pair of tree swallows perch on their new home for 2016, one of about 35 swallow houses around the shorebird area. As you can see, it was a frosty morning!



Close-up detail of a beautiful tree swallow, one of Missouri’s most stunning birds, in iridescent blue-green and brilliant white.

When I finally tore myself away from the swallows, it didn’t take long to find a couple of grebes. Unfortunately, they were pied-billed grebes. As I searched the lake for the next hour for horned-grebes I realized that I was in a severe needle-in-a-haystack situation and my efforts would be to no avail.

After I’d given up on the grebes, I took a nice walk through the woods and stumbled across a turkey vulture roost in top of a sycamore tree. I couldn’t get a decent image of the 10 or so vultures so I just sat back and enjoyed them. My trip to Binder Lake had been a resounding success, notwithstanding my limited social aspirations.

Thanks for looking,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery of Images:  Danny’s Website 

3 comments on “Tree Swallows Meet for Morning Coffee”

  1. I love swallows! They are so beautiful, thanks for featuring them and the story of course! I need a swallow lesson on the different kinds.

    • Hi Melanie – – if you go to any books such as Petersen’s field guide, the swallows are all really easy to separate. Then if you watch them for a while you’ll definitely get the hang of it. If I can, anybody can!

  2. On a T-shaped telegraph(is it?) pole, Swallowing coffee….thank you for the great image of a Society Gathering!

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