Tree Swallows are among my favorite birds, always delighting in observing their aerial acrobatics in fast pursuit of insects, rapidly twisting and turning thru the air dashing here, there, and everywhere on late summer afternoons and evenings.
The Tree Swallow (tachycineta bicolor) is one of the most beautiful of the swallow family, with deep-blue, iridescent backs and clean white fronts. With their steely, bluish-green feathers flashing in the sunlight, Tree Swallows make a most striking appearance and display as they chase thru the air in pursuit of insect food for their families.
Tree Swallows do not build open, free-form nests of dead grass, leaves, sticks and twigs like many birds, but rather only nest inside cavities, such as old woodpecker holes in trees. With such natural places in limited supply, nesting sites like these are scarce and at a premium in the spring, on a first-come, first-served basis, with intense competition with everyone looking for a home in which to raise a family. But fortunately, Tree Swallows also adapt readily to nesting boxes.
You can help the Tree Swallows in your neighborhood by putting out nesting boxes in your backyard. The birds are a great addition to a backyard or field and will reward you, as many birds and bats do, by regularly patrolling and keeping insects under control and at bay all summer long.
The average adult Tree Swallow consumes 2,000 insects each day during the 45 day nesting period, while also catching approximately 6,000 insects per day to feed to their nestlings over their twenty day stay in the nestbox. Overall, this adds up to about 300,000 insects per family over the 45 day span. Since most of their hunting takes place under a height of 39 feet, that is potentially a lot of insects not pestering you in the backyard over the summer.
That is a good return on the purchase, or for a few boards and time invested in building a nest box. And then you and your family will also be able to enjoy observing these beautiful birds going about their business darting and dashing thru the air and raising their young thru the whole season.
For more information on Tree Swallows, please visit the Tree Swallow Nesting Project and Building Nesting Boxes for some easy how-to guides.
Thanks as always for visiting. If you have stories or experience with these beautiful birds or helping them with nest boxes at your home, please feel free to share with us in the comments. — Jim (and Red!)
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