- This is from Birder's World Magazine. A friend saw a
segment of Nova on PBS recently about these birds:
"Hi-tech Barn Swallows
A couple of Minnesota Barn Swallows have raised the bar on the scale
of "Swallow IQ." For the past four years, a pair of Barn Swallows has
nested inside the lumberyard entryway at the Home Depot store in
Maplewood, Minnesota. At least one pair has learned that if they fly
a tight circle in front of the motion detector above the double doors
at the entry to the Home Depot, the doors open. Each bird then flies
one more loop as the doors open and swoops inside where the pair has
built a nest atop a small pipe near the ceiling. When a bird is ready
to leave, it flies a tight circle in front of the motion detector
inside the doorway and the doors again open for Home Depot's small
Keith Stomberg, a supervisor at the store, first noticed the birds
nesting inside in the summer of 2001. He was fascinated by their
apparent learned behavior and left them alone to raise their
families. It was a good place for the swallows to raise their young
because there were no predators or bad weather. The pair typically
raised two broods each year. When the birds returned to nest in 2003,
he contacted the staff of the Nongame Wildlife Program of the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Wildlife biologist Joan Galli observed the nesting swallows and was
amazed to see how the birds had adapted to the unique setting in
order to raise their families. "We typically think of the crow family
and the parrot family as among the most intelligent of birds,"
according to Galli, "but apparently the swallows have a few tricks of
their own that help us appreciate how birds are constantly adapting
to survive in novel human-created environments."
-- Carrol Henderson"