Paula's Patch: A Minnesota Garden

Come wander in; my gate is always open! Gardening / Birding

Our Tree Swallows Are Back May 1, 2013

We have at least 1 pair of Tree Swallows that return to nest in our garden every year. They returned a few days ago and have been checking out the nestbox each day since. They spend several days just flying around the yard, going in and out of the nestbox before they begin building their nest. Hubs and I get a kick out of watching them and being greeted by their warbly call.

tree swallow || nesting in nestbox | | paula bonelli

tree swallow nesting

tree swallow | | paula bonelli

tree swallow

I love the stark contrast in their coloring —  iridescent blue/green feathers with bright white breasts (females are duller with more brown in their feathers). These beauties nest in tree cavities, but readily adapt to nestboxes. Hang one in your yard and see if you can attract them! If you want to attract just Tree Swallows, be sure you have the right opening. Too large an opening will attract other birds like sparrows or chickadees. We had to “flatten” the opening a bit. Instead of making it round, we found that a flatter oval shape approximately 2″ wide x 1″ tall works best. The Tree Swallows (and maybe a House Wren) are the only birds that can make themselves small enough to squeeze in.

Did you know…

  • Tree Swallows feed on small insects that they catch in their mouths during flight?
  • They can eat plant foods as well as their normal insect diet, which helps them survive cold snaps and wintry weather in early spring, such as we’re having!
  • Tree Swallows winter farther north than any other American swallows and return to their nesting grounds long before other swallows come back?
  • The oldest Tree Swallow on record was at least 12 years, 1 month old when it was captured and released by an Ontario bird bander in 1998?

P.S. As I get ready to share this post today, we have a winter storm warning! 6-9 more inches of heavy snow headed our way. The WORST time for this since plants and bulbs are beginning to peek out of the ground. And it’s really bad for our fruit tree farms and wineries! 😦


2 Responses to “Our Tree Swallows Are Back”

  1. Love the swallow photos! Good luck with the storm, I hope it doesn’t create too much damage.

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