Monday, June 20, 2011

Tree Swallows Move In!

 On June 7 I reported that a pair of Tree Swallows plus one were checking out my nesting box. They came and went for days on end. Finally, there was a flurry of mating activity and shortly thereafter the female began gathering nesting material. I was pretty optimistic. (I have read that an immature female will often join a pair without being threatening to them. In the event that something were to happen to the main female, the secondary one would come in an incubate the eggs - a sort of surrogate mother, I guess.)
While the female worked away gathering nesting materials, the male checked out every corner of the yard. He was either doing a security check or marking his territory. I really don't know which but no space was left untouched.

 It was common to see him flexing his muscles as if working out to be sure that he would be up for the next opportunity to meet his mate.
 Many days of this same activity came and went. Sometimes the pair was here and sometimes they were gone. Then, last week I looked out and saw a scene unfold that reminded me of a sketch I saw years ago on "Laugh In."

The female was sitting on the wire minding her own business when in flies the "dirty old man."
He perches on the wire beside her and she totally ignores him.   He asks, "Do you believe in the hereafter?" She looks the other way and moves a little further away from him.
He then lifts off and says, "Do you know what I am here after?"

 In no time, he shows her exactly what he is here after.  This was not the first tryst but it did seem to be the last before the female moved into the box on a regular basis. The Tree Swallow can lay from 4 to 7 eggs and take 13 to 16 days to hatch. Once hatched they will likely remain in the box for 16 to 24 days. I understand that Tree Swallows have two broods a year. It will be interesting to see if that happens.
In the meantime the male sits and waits like an expectant father while the female sits quietly in the nesting box. My yard will be a laboratory of study for the next month to six weeks and maybe even longer.

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