Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tree Swallow, aka Bluebird's Neighbor

When people put up nesting boxes to help restore dwindling bluebird populations, they've learned to put up two fairly close together. That's because tree swallows, which also find the boxes desirable for nesting, are numerous, and when there is only one nest box in an area, tree swallows often preempt the bluebirds. When two nest boxes are adjacent, the tree swallows that claim one will not tolerate another tree swallow nearby but have no problem allowing a bluebird family to claim that second house. (Read about St. Olaf College's nest box program here.)

So, not surprisingly, when we saw bluebirds last weekend at the McKnight Prairie, we also saw tree swallows. The male tree swallow is a gorgeous bird, pure white below and an iridescent blue or blue-green above. I was standing watching a bluebird when I heard very close behind me what sounded like an intensely musical flow of water; I turned to find the male tree swallow vocalizing on a post just a few feet behind me. Later, we walked right past him on the driveway, again within a few feet of the little bird, and he didn't seem troubled at all by our presence. Learn more about tree swallows here.

Look at the length of those wings!

1 comment:

Jim H. said...

Fascinating! I guess the swallows have their own form of restrictive zoning regulations! My South Carolina relatives are always bragging about their bluebird population. I'll have to ask them about tree swallows.