By Terri Gorney
Adams County is known for being one of the flattest counties in Indiana. So what are cliff swallows doing in Geneva?
In the spring of 2016, a small flock of cliff swallows were seen by Randy Lehman and myself around the Loblolly Creek close to the Limberlost Swamp Nature Preserve. Some of the birds were perched on electrical wires and others were busy scooping up mud from the creek banks and taking it below the bridge. It appeared that they were building nests. On May 27 Curt Burnette was able to confirm that there was a colony of cliff swallows nesting here.
These insect eating birds have learned to adapt themselves to use man-made structures such as barns, bridges, or culverts for nesting. They build mud nests side by side that cling to vertical walls. Since a colony can eat hundreds of insects, like mosquitoes, a day, they are a welcome summer resident.
Last year, I observed them in this same location as well as in the heart of Fort Wayne on bridges over the St. Joe River and St. Mary's River.
This year, on May 15, Randy and I observed a flock of over 30 birds busily catching insects on the wing over Limberlost. They appear to be nesting here again this year as we have seen them over the past two weeks.
Gene Stratton-Porter mentioned swallows under the bridge over the Wabash River in Geneva. They were most likely cliff swallows. Maurice McClue, an attorney from Angola, wrote in his "Natural History Memoranda" that they were extirpated from Steuben County around 1920. He was pleased to note that a small colony was using the side of a barn for their nests in Cass County in June of 1955.
Southern Adams County appears to agree with swallows as barn, tree, bank, rough-winged and cliff swallows have been documented here.