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Robert Bateman (Prints)

Under Construction – Cliff Swallows (Print)

Artist's page


Offset Paper; Edition Size 1500
9 x 12(inches) / 22.86 x 30.48(centimeters)
Unframed (US Dollar): $85.00

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“The summer days of my youth were spent at a cottage on a lake which bordered northern forest
and southern farmland. This was the perfect interface for a young artist and naturalist. The barn
was only yards away from the cottage and was a source of endless pleasure … hide and seek,
jumping in the hay, watching the pigs and sheep and cattle and chickens. It was the warm
and complex world of the traditional family farm.

The barn also provided habitat for wildlife. The most obvious denizens were the barn swallows.
Their cheery “peeta peeta” notes were blended with the barnyard sounds. Then one summer
some of the swallows were uttering a more melodious chirp. Young Bateman, the budding
birder, was thrilled to notice that some of the swallows had little creamy patches on their
foreheads as well as square tails and orangey rumps. My Peterson field guide told me that
these were cliff swallows. Before the arrival of Europeans [to North America] these birds
would have nested under protective overhangs of cliffs but for the last couple of centuries
the eaves of barns provided equal protection and barns were more abundant than cliffs
in most areas. Barn swallows build a simple cup attached to the wall or ledge but cliff
swallows create gourd shaped orbs from little blobs of mud. I see fewer and fewer
barns in my travels and it has been some time since I saw a cliff swallow but when
I do my heart goes straight as an arrow to those days of my youth.”