Monday, May 10, 2010

Tree Swallow Routine

We have had a nesting box near the house for many years.  It is attached to the top of the pole that brings the telephone and internet line to the house. The sun shines on it from the time of rising to mid-afternoon.  In early Spring, tree swallows return to Beaver Creek marsh.  They fly around in groups, feeding and checking out nesting sites.  Two popular ones are the nest box near the house and a nest box above the fenced lower garden.  Other sites are in large snags in the swamp surrounding the marsh. Within a month, a pair of swallows has selected the nest box.  Shortly after selecting the nest site, the birds mate, flying with each other in front of and above the nest box.  Then they begin bringing nesting materials to the nest box.

Now the routine has started.  The birds begin flying around dawn, returning to the box with bits of grass, straw, twigs, feathers, and cloth from prayer flags.  As the sun warms, one of the birds will sit on top of the box (we call it the porch) and preen, calling insistently.  Occasionally, they will trade-off flying for nesting materials, or both go off and return.  By 11 am, they are finished with gathering nesting materials and they leave the nest box.  For the remaining part of the day they are perched in nearby trees or flying over the marsh and through the forest, catching insects and enjoying the company of many other swallows.

This routine will change soon.  The nest will be complete and eggs laid.  The next routine will be for the pair to take turns alternating between sitting on the eggs and flying off to feed.  The weather is warming, with less rain and wind.  Insects are becoming more abundant for swallows to feed on. 

Posted by michael

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