• Some swallows even landed on top of others to form a pile and conserve heat

Seemingly Surreal Swallows in a Spring Snowstorm

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Though it was an exceptionally cold winter and spring, a snowstorm in Mid-may is unheard of here. Unfortunately, a large group of recently-arrived migrating Tree Swallows got caught in the storm and had to hunker down on the tree branches overlooking the Yukon River, and wait it out. I feared the worst would happen during the 24 hour storm, and was worried sick that they would die from exhaustion as a result of their long journey from Central America, a lack of food as there were no flying insects, strong winds and sub-zero temperatures. I returned the next morning and found no dead birds, so presumably most had survived. They seemed to go into a state of semi-torpor (slow metabolism) and huddled (see note) to conserve energy, a strategy that apparently worked.

As surreal as it appears, this shot is pretty much straight out of the camera with a few contrast, vibrance and saturation adjustments in CS5. The green bokeh is courtesy of the deep green colour of the Yukon River in the spring. Eventually, this photo and others, along with the story, attracted significant international media attention. See my narrative www.flickr.com/photos/keithmwilliams/6401859531/in/photos...

Christine Kapler / PASSED AWAY, and 894 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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  1. adrian.r.walmsley 7 months ago | reply

    Awarded in
    Absolutely Extraordinary Hall of Fame

    Post your photos with 10 Awards here

    2nd CHANCE Post Here 8 or 9 Awards
    Best awarded pics 15+ Post Here 15+ awards

  2. Frizztext 6 months ago | reply

    Hi Keith,
    thank you for sending your photo to my group BLOG IT! So I could introduce your shot on my blog at
    I hope that will support your work!

  3. kdee64 6 months ago | reply

    Thanks Frizztext.

  4. Renate Flynn 6 months ago | reply

    This is just an incredible photo! Viewed on Frizztext's blog at flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/noahs-ark

  5. Rosmarie Wirz 6 months ago | reply

    Absolutely fantastic capture!

  6. Fren_pt 4 months ago | reply

    Wonderful capture!!

  7. Tanjica Perovic 4 months ago | reply

    Fabulous catch.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Nature as Abstract Artist
    Best of Winter Wonderland

  8. beccarodomskybish 3 months ago | reply

    This is a beautiful photo! I am going to use it for a Cornell Lab of Ornithology holiday meme for the YardMap Project. It will appear on our Facebook page on December 25th. We'll provide photo credit. Thank you for sharing this on the Creative Commons.

  9. mariannakoutna 3 months ago | reply

    Fantastic moment, excellent photo! Compliment :-)

  10. Wynja ღ 3 months ago | reply

    So lovely ♥

    Seen in Gallery: Uccelli 2

  11. kaising_fung 2 months ago | reply

    Especially like the two on the small twig.

  12. smalltownSK 2 months ago | reply

    What an amazing shot!

  13. carogray1 2 months ago | reply

    this is adorable.. the best photo I have seen for some time.. just love it! what a capture and what a composition.. wow..

  14. Marisa L.V. 3 weeks ago | reply

    Absolutamente adorable... ¡es una maravilla! Te felicito!

  15. Photosuze 2 weeks ago | reply

    This is a fantastic image! Glad to hear they survived. The weather is so wacky everywhere it amazes me that any animals are making it through. To capture this moment was truly wonderful!

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