19 January 2013

Settling of the Chimney Swallows

About 7:30 o'clock last evening residents in the vicinity of Farnam's Mill, Ida Hill, witnessed an unusual and interesting spectacle. The tall stack of the mill looms upward over the building to a height of 70 or 80 feet. For several years past flocks of swallows have been accustomed to passing the night in the stack. Their numbers constantly increased, and last Fall many people gathered nightly to witness the settling of the birds. The swallows made their first appearance this Spring Thursday evening. They came in flocks of tens and twenties, and quietly entered the opening in the chimney. Last evening residents in the neighborhood and passers-by were surprised to see thousands of swallows approaching from all parts of the heavens. Their numbers were greatly augment until, it is estimated, that 7,000 or 8,000 birds were flying about. Shortly the immense flock arose to a height of several hundred feet and circled about, flying faster and faster, so thick that they appeared one moving and impenetrable mass. Suddenly the birds in the centre shot downward to the chimney, the feathered mass assuming a funnel shape. The birds then dropped quickly into the stack, seemingly in sections. After a portion of the flock had disappeared the other birds near the top of the stack remained for a time suspended, evidently to permit the settling of the birds within the stack, and then another section disappeared into the opening. While circling in the air the birds made a loud chirping noise that could be heard blocks away.

May 13, 1883. The settling of the swallows. New York Times. From the Troy Telegram, May 5.