Antelope Island State Park in Utah is a mecca for wildlife photographers, and I was fortunate enough to capture a mesmerizing moment while I was there. I photographed a group of Cliff Swallows gathering nesting material, and it was truly a sight to behold.

Cliff Swallow Gathering Nesting Material
Cliff Swallow Gathering Nesting Material

Cliff Swallows, known for their mud nests that they build under bridges, cliffs, and overhangs, are common throughout North and South America. These tiny birds are known for their swift and agile flying abilities, making them a challenge to photograph.

What makes Cliff Swallows unique is their nesting behavior. They often form colonies, and within these colonies, each pair builds their mud nest close to their neighbors. This close proximity creates a strong sense of community and cooperation amongst the swallows. In fact, Cliff Swallows are known to help each other build their nests and will defend their neighbor’s nests as fiercely as they defend their own.

Interestingly, the mud used to build the nests is a critical component of the Cliff Swallow’s nesting behavior. They gather mud and mix it with their saliva to create a sticky substance that is used to build their nests. Cliff Swallows are so dependent on this mud that if it is not available, they will often abandon their colony and move to a new location.

As I watched these birds gathering mud and building their nests, I was struck by the incredible teamwork and cooperation they exhibited. It was a reminder of how even in the animal kingdom, community and cooperation are critical to survival. The Cliff Swallows’ unique nesting behavior makes them a fascinating subject for wildlife photographers and birdwatchers alike.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: RF100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM


  • Location: Antelope Island State Park (Utah)
  • Date and Time Taken: June 1, 2022 (09:26 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f8
  • Shutter speed: 1/3200
  • ISO: 800 (Auto)
  • Focal Length: 500 mm

Here is a photo I took of a Tree Swallow: Tree Swallow Taking A Break