The Tree Swallow
of New York

Tree Swallow (tachycineta bicolor)

The Tree Swallow is a familar sight in New York during the Summer months. This small ( 5-6 inch ) beautiful bright colored blue bird has a solid white underbelly, black beak and a black mask around the eye area. The wings are long and pointed and it's tail is forked. It's iridescent blue feathers can look almost greenish just before fall migration. Jeuveniles have grey feathers instead of deep blue. Females can take 2-3 years to aquire their full adult plumage.

These birds are easily enticed into a nesting box, espescially if there aren't any natural nesting cavities in the area. They can be seen making frequent trips to and from there nesting spot which makes them the perfect bird for bird watchers interested in studying their behavior.

What Do They Eat?

Tree Swallows are known for their great aerial acrobatics and the ability to catch small insects in flight. The eat flies, mosquitis, beettles and pther flying insects. They will also nab caddisflies, mayflies and stoneflies over the water as they hatch. Rarely you may also find them eating berries and seeds.

Mating & Nesting

They commonly breed from May to July in open habitats like fields and wetland areas. They will naturely nest in old hollowed out tree cavities in a wetland or marsh, but are great candidates for nesting boxes. Females will lay 4-6 white eggs and incubate them for 13-16 days. Both parent will feed the hatchlings for 16-24 days when the young birds will then leave the nest. Females may sometimes have two broods per season.

Interesting Facts

  1. A group is known collectively as a "stand" of swallows.
  2. Because the birds are migratory, once they nest in your yard, they are likely to return to the same spot for many years.
  3. They will "play" with feathers used to line the nest (dropping and recatching them in flight.) Sometimes two swallows will seem to be fighting over the feather as they play.
  4. Adult birds consume 2000 insects themselves and feed 6000 insects to their young during the 45 day nesting period.

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