Last week, watching Bank Swallows fly over the Missisquoi River between Enosburg and East Berkshire, I noticed a swallow swoop down, grab a small ball of white “fluff” in its beak, and fly away.
I also noticed several other small clumps of this white “fluff” skipping along the sandbar in the river a few feet downwind from six Ring-billed Gulls that were splashing in the river and preening on the sandbar.
Then a Bank Swallow swooped in and grabbed another piece of “fluff.” The swallow flew out of sight far down-river.
The Birders Handbook (Erhlich, Dobkin, and Wheye) identifies Bank Swallow nest material as including “… usu[ally] abundant feathers” (400).
Bank Swallows used to nest in this location but not for a few years, since the river bank slumped. Even though they no longer nest right here, swallows still work this particular section of the river - perhaps because of the presence of gulls and feathers?