Wildlife Survey & Photo Service

Swallows

Nest Site

Nest

Courting

Mating

Feeding

Eat Bugs

Fast Food

Chicks

Male Tree Swallow peaking into the nest cavity selected by his mate. 

Male

Female Tree Swallow searching for a suitable nest cavity. Note the research band on her right leg.

Female

Tree Swallows - Cavity Nesting Birds

Riparian birds are an important component of any restoration project due the loss of stream side habitat, in this case large snags with nesting cavities. They feed on the adult phase of aquatic insects such as mayflies. The female swallow went from nest site to nest site looking for features important to her. Once she selects her optimum site, she will rapidly bring grass to the stump cavity and build a nest.

 

NOTE: The female has research band on her right leg.

 

Tree Swallow: Tachnycineta bicolor on April 10, 2013

Cavity Nesting Riparian Birds - Putah Creek

Is this house suitable to raise a family?  Nice view of Putah Creek from the nest cavity balcony. High enough to avoid snake predation. Quiet area. With new carpet and paint the tree cavity could be home-sweet-home.

 

Photographer's Note: She's watching a prospective mate demonstrate his flying skills. Nothing better than having a guy who can fly. Right?

 

 

Tree Swallow: Tachnycineta bicolor on April 10, 2013

Female Tree Swallow holding a piece of grass she will use to build her nest.

Building a nest

Okay, the house is coming along. The male suitor is okay so far but she still has concerns. Nice feathers, good flier, but he doesn't work to much. He just sits around and screeches orders. He won't even bring a blade of grass home.

 

Photographer's Note: Yep, she brings a single blade each trip and deposits each in the nest cavity. For some reason, she often will hold up a piece of grass and show the world. After every few trips to collect nest material, she spends a few moments in the cavity probably arranging the nest materials.

 

Tree Swallow: Tachnycineta bicolor on April 11, 2013

Male Tree Swallow "screeching" at his mate.

Courting?

Well, the male (right side) has a different style of courting. He's not happy about something. Maybe it's the jewelry she has on her right leg. That's an expensive piece of aluminum that some other male gave her.  She looks rather sweet and innocent.

 

What could he possibly saying?

 

Tree Swallow: Tachnycineta bicolor on April 13, 2013

Tree swallows mating.

Tree Swallows - Mating

The female frequently watched the male demonstrate his flying abilities. And fly he can! She would sit inside the tree cavity and watch him. Occasionally she would join him in the aerial display. It was incredible to watch the small swallows fly through the trees in wind that reached 20 mph. Flying ability is important as he had to be a skilled aerialist to mate with her. A crash landing could prove fatal. When I release it, the video will go viral.

 

Mating Tree Swallows: Tachnycineta bicolor on April 23, 2013

Feeding the chicks

Can't see the baby birds yet, but they are alive and well. Very noisy. The adults are constantly feeding the chicks. The adult swallows are very fast. I slowed the video on the left to 40% of natural speed. Tune in again this week to hear the hungry chicks. Demanding little devils.

 

 

Tree swallow bringing mayflies home for brunch.
Female Tree Swallow with beakful of mayflies for chicks.

Morning Snack for the chicks!

The female Tree Swallow with a mouthful of Callibaetis mayflies for her chicks. She was feeding (catching) the mayflies over Putah Creek near Stephenson's Bridge. The image demonstrates the importance of restoring aquatic habitats as many riparian wildlife species feed on the adult phase of aquatic insects.

 

May 29, 2013 - 10:15AM

 

Fast Food for Noisy Chicks

Feed me MaMa, feed me - right NOW.  The mother bird returns during some feeding sessions every 30 seconds with some assortment of insects. She hits the entrance to the tree cavity with very little slow down.

 

The chicks were not visible as of May 31. My avian expert, Bobby Walsh, expects the chicks to be seen in the entrance hole in the next few days. Begging, begging, begging.

Female Tree Swallow leaving tree cavity nest site. 

Female Tree Swallow leaving Cavity Nest

They Flew the Coop.

The sneaky little chicks fooled me and flew the coop with Mother in the lead on June 3rd. Stay tuned as we have a couple of other nest sites that we are monitoring near Putah Diversion Dam. Plus, my avian expert - Bobby Walsh - believes the swallows might double clutch and raise another set of chicks.

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