Thursday, July 26, 2007

Flight of the Tree Swallows

We're back in town after a week up the lake at the float cabin. So much to tell, but I think I’ll start with our Tree Swallows. In late May, we watched them build a nest in one of our five new birdhouses. While several pairs started nest building, only one pair completed the process and laid eggs (June 10). When we returned to the cabin during the last week of June, we could already hear the high pitched peeps of chicks in the nest. Both parents swooped along the lake and cliffs catching insects to take back to their babies. This child rearing went on throughout early July. The parents were very protective. Aerial dog fighting drove away other passing swallows or humans trying to cross the bridge to land. In mid-July, we saw one chick poke his head out of the hole in the birdhouse. He was covered in down and looked like a little ball of feathers with a funny little beak. We also saw evidence of the adults cleaning the nest by removing material (July 16).

On July 19, we returned to the cabin after a week in town. One chick was poking his head and upper body through the circular entrance. Either his sibling was below in the nest, or had already departed. The chick had lost the down from his head, but it still covered his upper body. There was no evidence of an adult returning to the nest to feed the chick that day or the next. On the evening of July 20 we noticed two Tree Swallows flying around the cabin and swerving in and out of the front porch. When we checked the birdhouse, no chick was either heard or seen. So this must have been the first flight. We don’t know if a parent returned to supervise and give flying tips, or of both siblings took to the air simultaneously. Either way, fly high and fast. Hope to see you next year with children of your own. -- Margy

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