Our tree swallow chicks fledged today, June 18, Father’s Day. I knew they were getting close to leaving the nest box, so on Friday and Saturday I spent some time photographing the parents feeding the young. I missed seeing them leave the nest.
The adults are very fast and agile flyers. They are to winged insects what peregrine falcons are to most bird species.
I think of them just catching bugs in the air, but I realized in watching them with the telephoto lens that they get vegetation attached to them by apparently also flying into heavy vegetation. The male had a twig sticking out of the right side of his neck and the female had vegetation stuck in her tail. Fortunately, the vegetation on each came off after a while. I was worried that the male had impaled himself to some extent, but he finally came in on a feeding run without the stick.
We’ve had the nest box for 6 years and swallows have used it every year. Unfortunately, all the chicks died last year. I spoke with a song bird expert and was told that lots of tree swallow nests were unsuccessful last year because of the drought. Apparently, the dry conditions caused a big drop in insect populations.