Conservation // 5 min Read

A Feathered Storm

Written by Aaron Palmieri

Nov 11, 2020

Anyone who spends time by the inland waterway during the fall bird migration may feel as if they entered the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds. Tree swallows numbering in the thousands descend upon the waterway each fall in search of food and water during their southward migration. This vast spectacle is comparable to a feathery tornado circling above the surface of the water. We perceive the swallows as whizzing about chaotically when, in fact, they are subtly coordinating with each other to avoid collision with fellow flock members. Before long, an unseen cue from the lead swallow causes this avian storm to implausibly pile onto a single wax myrtle before another signal relaunches their aerial display. Eventually, the majority of these tree swallows will continue south while a much smaller population remains at Palmetto Bluff for the winter.