Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tree Swallows

Tree Swallows kept me company as I prepared to put new fence wire around the garden.  They arrived in record numbers this year, taking control of every nest box not already occupied by a Bluebird. Squadrons of seemingly boxless birds circle the field, chattering constantly.

Wooden fence posts are the perching place of choice for Tree Swallows and several other field related species.  Besides the top of a bird box, fence posts are the only place I ever see the Tree Swallows land. The first and third posts are topped by Tree Swallows.  The fuzzy brown blur atop the fifth post is a Song Sparrow.  I guess it’s a lucky thing I maintain a fence, so the birds have somewhere to rest.

I’m not sure if this Tree Swallow is mooning me, or if it is just comfortable enough in my presence to conduct business as usual.  This species is quite tolerant of my gardening activities, as long as I’m relatively quiet and slow moving.

Since the Tree Swallows were all out watching me work, I decided to take advantage of their empty boxes to check out their nesting progress.  All the nearby boxes had completed nests, but only one had begun laying and in that nest was a single egg.

In another box was a nest with a thicker than normal layer of base material.  Bluebirds began a nest in this box, but gave up their lease to a pair of Tree Swallows. 

I think the Tree Swallows are now firmly in control.  It doesn’t look like they’re going to give up this box.  Maybe the Bluebirds will retake it after the Tree Swallows fledge their first batch of young.


  1. What exciting pictures to take. You know, if I saw one of those birds perched on a post from distance I'd simply swear it was a bluebird or BlueJay, but I'm sure in flight they have that characteristic jet fighter look reminiscent of the early 1950s Korean War era.

  2. We have found that placing 2 bird houses about 10 feet apart allows bluebirds to nest near aggressive tree swallows without geting displaced.

  3. What great pictures! I hope we get to see the babies, too. :)

  4. Hi Kevin. You're right with your in flight description.

    Hi James. I tried that when I first set out boxes, but later I split the pairs because one box always seemed to remain empty. I hadn't thought about it since, but with the increasing population of Tree Swallows, I should probably try again. I guess I'll have to make some more boxes.

    Hi Lois. There's a good chance that one or two baby pictures will show up here.