Monday, July 5, 2010

Nesting Tree Swallows

Tree Swallow chick, about a week old
Young Tree Swallow ready to fledge

Wrapping up my tour of wild Concord:
We ended the day with a visit to an expert birder's home. Her meadow-like property is dotted with nest boxes that attract Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. During our visit she opened two boxes to allow us to view Tree Swallow chicks at various stages of development. She carefully removed these two chicks from their boxes in one deft but delicate movement, allowing me to snap a couple of photos before quickly returning them to their nests. Their parents, flying in and out with meals of insects, hardly seemed to mind. Clearly, there is a great deal of trust between avians and humans here.

I learned that the Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) is a ready inhabitant of nest boxes and very much appreciates having access to them as more and more people remove dead and dying trees without regard for their use as essential nesting sites for birds and other creatures.

Tree swallows are common summer residents in Massachusetts. I have always found them enchanting and I particularly enjoy their song, a series of repeated whistles and twitters. Listen.

During our visit we also saw a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a male Eastern Bluebird, Downy Woodpeckers and Red-winged Blackbirds. What a magical way to end the tour!

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