A visual journal exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

by Teri Tynes – writer, photographer, and illustrator

Northern Rough-winged Swallows in the Fog at High Tide

A fog settled over the Salt Marsh in Inwood Hill Park early this morning. It was also a time of high tide, and the tide was higher than usual. The regular denizens such as the Great Egret were away. A couple of Song Sparrows were present. Looking closer at the tree that reaches over the water, though, three Northern Rough-winged Swallows could be seen preening their feathers or resting for the next flight. 

Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Salt Marsh, Inwood Hill Park. April 17, 2023

Northern Rough-winged Swallows do not particularly announce themselves on a drizzly morning such as this. They are dullish brown in color, fading to white on their chests, and they have long bodies and smallish heads. Their name derives from the tiny hooks on the edge of their outer wing feathers, giving them a rough appearance. Such details would be hard to discern even in clear weather.

The swallows left the branch from time to time, usually in pairs, to fly over the marsh or to circle the athletic field in order to eat insects in flight. Their nonchalant flights, slower than other swallows, made for pleasant entertainment on an atmospheric morning.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow. April 17, 2023

These images would not suffice for any proper bird identification, but I like their painterly quality.

Foggy morning at the Salt Marsh. April 17, 2023.
High tide at the Salt Marsh. April 17, 2023.

Here are additional pictures of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow at the Salt Marsh from May of 2022. On that morning, the weather was clear.  

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