Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gardening Article: The Tree Swallows Have Returned To Nest

Guest author Jacqueline from, republished with permission.

A male arrives to check out last years gourd nest.An exciting event has happened in our front yard! We were alerted to the tree swallows’ appearance after hearing their cheerful twittery song and noticing their bat-like acrobatics as they raced for flying insects. We understand they can eat their own weight in insects every day.

They seem to have arrived back all at once looking for their old nests. We now have up four plastic gourds, which they seem to like very much. The openings are just right to prevent starlings from entering, and they hang from shepherd’s crooks planted firmly in the ground.

This is the third year they have come to the gourds.Tree swallows are a very easy bird to attract to your yard. Even with just one gourd house, you will have the enjoyment of following their beautiful life cycle, not to mention a decrease in the population of insects near your patio or porch.

The swallows don’t seem to be afraid of us at all! They must know they are much faster than we humans. This morning, I sat on a large nearby boulder to get these last shots. It was overcast, cold, and very windy, but they came and went, did aerial stunts, and chased round and round. Some of this is courtship behavior, and some is aggression towards a potential house

Preening one wing...This is the time before actual nest building when they stake out territorial boundaries, so there is a lot of posturing. Although the females are present, they are hard to distinguish from the males; the females have a slight more greenish cast to the blue.

The males go in and out of the nests and sit atop the pole to show ownership.

...then preening the other wing.Those that can’t find a ‘nest cavity’ lose out and will likely not mate this year, so putting up gourds is a help to these attractive, cheery birds. They may also find old woodpecker cavities in dead trees, but if occupied, they get chased away.

Checking out the new home.Weeks from now, once the eggs are laid and the parents are off hunting for flying insects, you can get right up to the door of the gourd and peer inside.

You may get noticed. The attack is usually enough for us to vacate the area on the run

Hopefully, once the eggs hatch, I can get some good shots to share!

Take a moment with your sweetheart and children to learn a little bit on these fabulous and friendly birds.

They are a delight to have in your yard. For more information on tree swallows, go here.

These gourds are wonderful, as well, for purple martins. Try to find ones with a 'port' to look inside and for yearly clean-out.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26.

~ Jacqueline

Photos courtesy of Jacqueline.

About the author: Jacqueline writes the inspirational blog, covering organic food and gardening, health, music, and life.

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