A Welcome Sign of Change – The Welcome Swallows of Mandurah
Our beloved Welcome Swallows are more than just a bird – they’re a symbol of change and an indication of the coming season. We often see these beautiful creatures on our cruises. Mandurah’s UN-protected wetlands are a world-class habitat for a diverse range of species. In face, Mandurah is a bird-watching paradise!
A Herald of Spring
The Welcome Swallow’s name refers to people welcoming its return as a herald of Spring in southern parts of Australia. In the Eastern States, the species migrates north in Winter. Its return south is a welcome indication of Spring approaching.
In Western Australia, the Welcome Swallow mostly stays put all year round. However, traditionally, local Noongar people have also welcomed its appearance. For them, it signalled rain was coming. Why? Flying insects stay close to the ground when rain is in the air. Swallows hunting them have to fly low, making the birds much more noticeable.
Diet & Hunting Skills
Welcome Swallows feed on a wide variety of insects. They catch prey in flight using their acrobatic flying skills. Watch them, and you’ll see fluttering, swooping and gliding as they search for flying insects. They are fast-flying and about 15 centimetres long.
The Welcome Swallow is known for its intricate mud nests. These are often built on human-made structures, like the Mandurah Estuary Bridge! Both males and females take part in building these masterpieces. Once constructed, they may return to the same nest for several seasons.
These Swallows are sociable birds. They often hunt and roost in groups. If you’ve seen a group of birds dancing in the air, chances are, you’ve witnessed Welcome Swallows in action. Their flight patterns are a sight to behold.
We see these pretty birds often. Welcome Swallows are not considered threatened. However, habitat preservation is vital to ensure their continued longevity. Our wetlands are protected under the UN’s Ramsar Treaty. At Mandurah Cruises, we take part in the annual Australian Shorebird Count, as one way to help ensure this protection remains.
Be sure to look out for these gorgeous birds on our dolphin cruises. And remember what a beautiful sign of change they are! The most common place and time we see the Welcome Swallows is on still days. They flutter around the boat as we cruise, because the boat disturbs the insects sitting on the water’s surface.