Daily Archives: June 13, 2014

We live with Tree Swallows

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow perches companionably with a Purple Martin decoy.

We bought our “Purple Martin House” from S & K Manufacturing. Attractive and well-built, and probably perfect for Purple Martins.

Too bad the Tree Swallows get there first every spring.

Tree Swallow

They are beautiful birds and not spooked when I just stand there and stare at them. They swoop down near me and the dog when we walk across the field, but not like they are trying to chase us away  – more for fun, I think.

Handsome aerialists with deep-blue iridescent backs and clean white fronts, Tree Swallows are a familiar sight in summer fields and wetlands across northern North America. They chase after flying insects with acrobatic twists and turns, their steely blue-green feathers flashing in the sunlight.

tree swallow

Only drawback: Tree Swallows do not share the empty rooms in their spacious aerial apartment building with martins. And martins nest only in manmade housing now.

From Martin Competition

… if a pair of bluebirds or Tree Swallows has begun nesting in one compartment of a new or unestablished martin site they will try to defend the entire housing complex against other birds, which discourages Purple Martin “scouts” from settling at the new locale.

There are ways to handle this, involving a level of early to mid-spring observation and nest box guardianship that we have never been able to manage. So we live with Tree Swallows. They are pretty, inspiring to watch, and they eat a lot of bugs.

tree swallow

Here is a photo from April three years ago – different martin house, same location in our back field, maybe the same Tree Swallows or relatives.

What bird would you be if you could be a bird for a day? Tree Swallows are near the top of my list because of their fantastic flying skills.