[CT Birds] nesting Tree Swallows

Carrier Graphics carriergraphics at sbcglobal.net
Sun May 16 11:21:35 EDT 2010

Hi Elaine

First off, you need to know a bit more about these two nesting birds and their preferred requirements. Please let me help if I may.

First: Bluebirds come back to nest much earlier than Tree Swallows. BBs start nesting in April, while Tree Swallows are just pairing and bonding by mid May. 
Tree Sws are also colonial nesting birds, tolerating their own kind nesting near.
Whatever nesting places that are left after the BBs have started their nests and are defending it, is open for them. Now - A better solution is the following, and this applies for almost any bird boxes you mount on a poles using a 1-1/2" hole.  

It is best to pair two boxes together, at about 18-20 feet apart. The purposes of this is to give two different species a nest box to use with as little fighting as possible. If say the first box is occupied with an active Bluebird pair, which usually happens well before the Tree Swallows even arrive, then the BBs will not bother the newly arrived Tree Swallow pair because they can use the adjoining box just 20 feet away - thus no competition. Remember, different species are usually tolerant of each other if they both have a box to use, thus, no fighting for a box. 

You also need to know what each species nests and eggs look like. Get a book on nesting birds of the USA. A little info below.......

Bluebird - neat cup nest of grass and or pine needles - eggs blue, rare white.

Tree Swallow - bowl nest of grass stems etc, with tell tail bird body feathers usually in a corner. Eggs pointy and white.

Wren - Usually fills the whole box with sticks - with a finner cup nest within. Eggs small with brown swirls. 

House Sparrow - First, if you have them about, BE CAREFUL! They are not indigenous to the USA, and all our hole nesting birds get predated or usurp from an active pair of these murderous birds. If you want to help the native species like BBs and Swallows, than don't put up a box for them unless you are willing to solve the House Sparrow problem ! I can not point this out more clearly. If you do nothing, then you will be doing more harm then good for the species you want to attract. 
Nest: A messy long stemmed grass nest usually domed. Best indication is the use of trash throughout the nest. Eggs are streaked with brown. If you find this nest, TAKE OUT THE EGGS but not the nest. Doing this keeps the sparrows occupied with this box and leaves the other boxes nearby, hopefully alone.

We have a responsibility to offer our boxes with as good, if not better chance of fledging young from the birds that occupy them. Anything less is irresponsible and does not help the birds that we are trying to attract. Don't let your efforts become death traps for the birds you are trying to help.
Respectfully submitted - 
Paul Carrier

Message: 2
Date: Sat, 15 May 2010 16:27:05 -0400
From: Elaine Taylor <etbchs at aol.com>
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Subject: [CT Birds] Tree Swallow Help
Message-ID: <B26F5883-69FA-4C7D-95DF-B87292C62A61 at aol.com>
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Tree Swallows settled in the bird house-same one as last year. We recently put up another house for our Blue Bird population about 75 feet away from the Tree Swallows. I noticed that the activity around the first house had slowed and the activity around the new house increased by both BB and TS. I thought perhaps the Tree Swallows were actually fledglings, so I checked the Tree Swallow house. I wasn't even "attacked" as would be the case in the past. I carefully opened the box door and slightly tipped the top of the nest enough to peek inside..and 4 little eggs were there-abandoned by the mom. Is it possible that the Mom just up and left her babies or is it normal that she would fly about during the day and nest on the eggs from time to time. I see the Swallows peeking inside, but no one goes in anymore-even before I looked at the nest or put up the new house. What do you suppose is going on?

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