The sun finally peered out after many days of gloom and rain, so I set out to take a few shots of the front yard nest box. There was a cold wind from the north and I hoped I would be able to endure long enough to get a few good photos. We originally put the box up to attract a second pair of Bluebirds, since their territory is quite large, and our house creates an added visual barrier between the backyard, where the primary pair is nesting, and the front area. However, a pair of Tree Swallows has moved in and, as of yesterday (4/25/20) Robert saw eggs in the nest. I like Tree Swallows, they are native cavity nesters, so I’m cool with them using the box, of course.
The pair is very active and I see one or both of them nearly every time I look out the window, so I expected to catch them. But, I wasn’t prepared for what I was able to film. It was exciting and very interesting to have witnessed. I believe that I watched the parents engage and train their young from last year to help raise this future brood. While there are only eggs, there was no need to feed the mother or chicks. That’s why I consider it a “training exercise.” I think I was observing practice runs.
I have watched Bluebirds and Tree Swallows have aerial battles over nest sites. I have watched both Tree Swallows and Bluebirds run off House Sparrows, as well. House Sparrows are not a native species, and we do not encourage them in any way (we toss their nests out of the boxes repeatedly as a form of “birth control.”) So, I am familiar with battles over turf. It usually happens when an outsider enters the space of the pair (or individual) that has assumed “ownership” of the nest box. And, while “outsiders” arrived, I did not see any signs of aggression. I did hear a significant amount of vocalizations from all four birds. The four birds spent significant time in the air, swooping about with each other before the parent pair landed on the box.
The Tree Swallows were not attempting to ward off the two others that were landing and flying close to the nest box. Rather, they seemed to be encouraging them.
At one point, the female entered the nest and stuck her head out while the two youngsters (gonna just assume that is who they were) appeared to fly by and slow sufficiently to “feed” the mother bird. I may be completely wrong, but that is how it appeared to me.
I’m happy that the sun came out and I had the time and thought to film the front yard Tree Swallow pair. I feel that I was privy to a unique situation…or if it isn’t all that unique, at least it was special to me.