Summer Residents – Tree Swallow

I am starting to see a few of the birds that reside here in the summer returning from their winter “vacations”. One early returnee is the Tree Swallow. They arrive fairly early, which is odd since they are primarily insectivores. But they are also able to dine on fruit and seeds so they can make through any late cold snaps where other swallows and flycatchers would find themselves in serious difficulty.

They are iridescent blue-green with dark wings and a bright white underside. Juveniles and young females are more brown than blue. They have a bit of a black mask around the eyes and very small beak.

The sun can really make them glisten.

They are called Tree Swallows because the nest in small holes in trees. They also like nest boxes and this is where I found them. I like to try to catch them in flight. It is a frustrating experience since they dart erratically through the sky as they chase insects. Any non-blurry picture is a win! However, there was a bit of a dispute over one particular box and I was able to get some action shots during the ensuing kerfuffle.

They will rear their young and do their bit to keep the insect population in check before preparing to migrate back to the southern US, Mexico and Central America in the fall. They will gather in flocks that consist of thousands and even tens of thousands of individuals in the late summer before leaving. I have previously posted photos of this truly amazing spectacle.

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