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Barn swallow arrival celebrated at Howell Farm April 27 and 29
CONTACT: Julie Willmot
TITUSVILLE -- One of the surest signs of spring at Howell Living History Farm is the arrival of the Barn Swallows, those little blue and white birds that travel all the way from South America to build their nests in the beams above the horse stalls.
On Friday, April 27 and Sunday, April 29, visitors of all ages are invited to celebrate their return with Mercer County Naturalist Jennifer Rogers and equine friends Jessie, Bill, Tom, Jebb, Jack and Chester – the Howell Farm horses that enjoy the swallows’ protection.
“Swallows keep the barn and barnyard free of gnats, mosquitoes and flies,” said Rogers. “If you’re a farmer – or a horse – you hold them in very high regard.”
The program, “Naturally Friends: Farmers and Barn Swallows,” is part of a series focused on the beneficial relationships that exist between farmers and the birds, bees and other wildlife that live in the fields, woods pastures and barns where farmers raise their crops and animals.
“I hope their biological clock is in time with our celebration,” Rogers added.
There’s good reason to expect it will be. The farm’s Program Coordinator, Kathy Brilla, has tracked their arrival for the past 17 years, logging landings between April 9 and April 21. Eleven occurred on April 18 or earlier.
Visitors can meet the swallows and learn about their life cycle during a Friday evening program in the farm’s Visitor Center and horse barn, from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m., and a Sunday program that features ongoing interpretation in the horse barn from 12:30 - 3:30 p.m. The programs are free and suitable for people of all ages and abilities. Reservations are not needed.
Both programs feature a climb into a hay mow for a swallow’s-eye view of the barnyard.
Howell Farm is a facility of the Mercer County Park Commission. It is located on Valley Rd., just off Rt. 29 two miles south of Lambertville, NJ. Parking and admission are free. For more information, call 609-737-3299 or visit websites www.mercercounty.org or www.howellfarm.org. For information about the Park Commission’s nature programs and classes, contact County Naturalist Jennifer Rogers at 609-989-6540.