Sunday, March 25, 2007

A gift from above

I don't know if I can explain what this bird means to me.
Last year, they arrived as an unbelievable and joyful surprise, a life/yard bird at the same time, and became the most successful nesting birds in the yard.
I mourned when they left for the winter, and the hope of their return kept me going through the cold months.
Today, my wait was over.

First TRES of 2007
The first tree swallow of 2007. He swooped happily through the air above me, as my heart did the Snoopy dance.
He was joined by 4 other swallows and he chased them all off. Soon the females will arrive and they will set up housekeeping.
Question for my bird peeps: I have been searching for information about the spacing of tree swallow nests. I seem to recall that 150 feet or more is preferred, but I'm not sure. All I can find is the spacing needed for bluebirds and tree swallows combined. It's too bad that they need so much space...if they nested colonially like purple martins, they would be all set here.
So, who knows the answer to this?
Nellie senses something in the air
Nellie cracks me up. I let her out when the TRES flew away, and though she didn't see them, she acted like something was wrong. Her ears were only half up, and she skulked around the yard, looking up into the sky. She KNEW, SOMEHOW, that they had been there!
Here's a post from last year. Nellie and the TRES go way back.

Robin attacking himself
I watched a robin today defend his territory from himself. This is a side window on our neighbor's house...I may have to give them some advice on how to stop this bird from exhausting himself by trying to kill a figment of his imagination.
Geoff thinks that I am going to march over there and demand they put decals on their window.
No worries, dear husband. I have no plans on alienating our very nice neighbors. But the next time I see them out in their yard, I may mention the robin and ask if he is bothering them.
I noticed later in the day, they had the window open, and the robin was just sitting in the tree, and not attacking.


Trixie said...

Yippy! I think I hear the Snoopy dance music. Enjoy.

LauraHinNJ said...

Glad your swallows have returned! I haven't seen any here yet.

You have bluebirds also, right?

Susan Gets Native said...

Seeing that little guy made my day. The Snoopy music only comes out on special occasions.

I have had BB try to nest here, but the babies that survived long enough to hatch died mysteriously last year. If I have to forget about the BB and focus on the TRES, I think I can do that.

Blogger didn't let Kathi comment tonight, so I copied the email she sent to me:
(Blogger is not letting me comment again. I think it hates me.)

Dear Susan:

I adore Tree Swallows! I "discovered" them in 2004, in my attempt to get a Purple Martin colony started in my yard. Limited success on martins so far, but the TRES are a joy to have around. I lovingly refer to them as my "bad children" because of their feisty nature, and they make it really hard to attract martins, but I would miss them if they were gone.

I swear they know me. I can walk right under their perch and talk to them and they don't fly away. Have you ever had them "dive-bomb" you? It is amazing! They aren't a bit afraid of anything - me, the dogs, even hawks. I had a young red-tailed hawk crash land in my yard on his maiden flight one summer, and it was a Tree Swallow who led the charge to chase the poor baby away.

I have had TRES nest in a traditional box one year and in a natural gourd for 2 years. I have only had 1 pair at a time nesting in my 5 acre lot, but only because I have not tried for more. I think if I put up more housing, I could host more pairs, but one is enough for me. I have my bird houses in a triangular area with the bluebird box, the tree swallow gourd, and the martin set-up. The first year, I had 5 TRES fledge in '04, 6 in '05, but in '06, 2 eggs were infertile and I only had 4 fledglings.

My male came back last Monday and on Wed, he was staring at me till I put up his gourd. Sat morning he was still alone, but later that morning, I looked out to see aerial wars - 5 TRES fighting over territory. Sunday, I had a pair perching on/near and inspecting the gourd, so I think they have settled in.

The following info is from The Birdhouse Network, a division of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, my "bible" for all things related to cavity nesters:

"Tree Swallow habitat: open fields near water, expansive open areas, marshes, meadows, wooded swamps; Mount housing on a post in open areas near tree or fence, space 30-100 feet apart, 5-15ft high, with a 1 3/8" round entry hole, facing east"

(My gourd is not that high, has a crescent-shaped hole that faces south and it works great.)

Here's another site for tree swallow stuff. I think this is the one that has a video of swallows playing with feathers, if I remember right.

Enjoy your TRES!
No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced

Mary said...

Yay! I'm glad your swallows are back but....poor....Nellie. Her story is kind of funny!!! I learned last summer that swallows aren't intimidated by much and I'd love to see them return.

Why are some birds demented (like the Robin)?