Tuesday, 19 May 2015

More on my Tree Swallow nest box project

Since 2010 i have been placing numerous nest boxes at a pond near my house. Neville's Pond as most people call it is usually home to 15 or more nesting pairs of Tree Swallows. When i was 13 i noticed these beautiful little blue birds trying to jam themselves into a steel post. The holes in the posts were too small for the swallows to get inside but i watched them trying relentlessly.  The next day my father & I headed down to the pond with a nest box. As i began attaching the box to one of the posts the swallows started fighting over the box. The box was in my hands still!! It was certainly something i had never herd of. Ever since that day i have been building more and more nest boxes to help the birds out as I'm sure there are not enough natural nest cavities available.

Since i began this project I've built and placed over 20 boxes around the pond. In my community i another 10 more boxes. Almost all of the boxes have been used by swallows. Each year i remove last years nest and repair the boxes before the swallows return. I have been able to study these birds up close and i have certainly learned a lot about their behaviour. I noticed that if i purchase white feathers from a craft store and simply hold them out in my hand when the swallows are finishing up nest building that the swallows will come and take them right from my hand! They always line their nests with white feathers. 

In late May when the swallows first arrive they have about a two week window where they are continuously checking out the nest boxes and going from box to box. This offers an amazing photo opportunity. Its simple. Put an interesting perch on top of a couple boxes. Then set up your tripod and wait. This could take hours but eventually everything works out.

As you can see these birds are one of my favourite species of birds. This species is facing a lot of pressure due to pesticides in the environment as well as an unavailability of nesting sites. Recently i learned that Tree Swallows have declined over 40%. I am happy knowing i have helped even a couple swallows nest and raise young. Swallow boxes are easy to build  you just have to remember two things. Entrance hole is 1 1/2" diameter and the floor dimensions should be no smaller then 5"x5".  I find the rest is just personal preference. Look up some plans online, there are a lot.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Spring arrives at Neville's Pond

Finally winter is behind us and spring is here. Although temperatures are not even double digits most days it sure is nice to be able to go out shooting with out a heavy winters coat on. Neville's Pond is what i would consider as my little "patch" where i check almost everyday for spring arrivals. It also happens to be where I've placed 21 nest boxes. Each year i maintain existing boxes and add a few more to help give Tree Swallows a helping hand in finding a nest site.

Tree Swallows fight over nest boxes. Taken in 2014
 The one thing that always marks the arrival of spring for me is seeing a Yellow-rumped Warbler. After many months of not seeing a single warbler it sure is exciting to see a flash of yellow among the trees. That quick flash of yellow is surely a YR warbler.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler 
Tree Swallows are by far my most welcomed sight in spring. These little aerial fighter jets are amazing. They are so agile that they eat flies on the wing. Could you imagine flying though the sky trying to get bugs using only your mouth....

Tree Swallow 
Here are a few more images from the last few weeks. Enjoy!

Black-capped Chickadee checks out a nest box

A new species for Neville's Pond. A Palm Warbler  

Northern Gannet at Cape St.Mary's Ecological Reserve 

Horned Lark 

Common Grackle