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June 11, 2011 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Tree Swallow Nestlings

In April I posted photos of a pair of Tree Swallows building a nest at my favorite birding site. The nest boxes they use are maintained and monitored by the local bird club. I was at the park last weekend for a bird walk and the box monitor mentioned that the eggs had hatched the night before. Excitement! Could we see them? Yes, of course. We all took a quick look and he allowed me to take a few shots. And here they are, one day old Tree Swallows.

This box is at the edge of a small marshy area near a hiking trail. These birds are accustomed to people and were not upset by our presence. Normally they will defend the nest and swoop down at your head.

The photo below is from last year’s nest. These nestlings were about a week old. They grow fast.

To the right is a picture of dad. He sat somewhat patiently in a tree while we took a quick peek at his family. After a few minutes he started flying around us in circles and it was time to move on.

Interesting Facts:

  • Tree Swallow prefer to nest in open areas near water.
  • They build their nests in dead trees but will happily use nest boxes.
  • The nest is an open cup of grass, plant stems or pine needles and is lined with feathers of other birds, usually of waterfowl.
  • A nest has 4 to 6 eggs and is primarily built by the female.
  • Only the female incubates the eggs but both parents feed the young.
  • Eggs hatch in about 13 to 16 days.
  • Young leave the nest in about 3 weeks.

Click here to see a live streaming video inside a Tree Swallow nestbox. The video is provided by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

I link up my bird photos on Saturday Snapshot hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.



Leave a Comment
  1. carol / Jun 11 2011 3:06 am

    Oh wow! Wonderful photos.

    thanks for this lovely article



  2. laurelrainsnow / Jun 11 2011 4:10 am

    Wow, so many facts I did not know! Thanks for sharing the lovely photos and facts.



  3. Trish / Jun 11 2011 4:45 am

    I am always amazed at how tiny and helpless they are. Good thing the dad helps out with the feeding – that’s quite a workload!


    • Leslie / Jun 11 2011 7:29 pm

      Birds are amazing parents when you consider how much work goes into feeding these little guys and getting them out of the nest.


  4. kaye / Jun 11 2011 6:27 am

    What a fantastic photo! They do grow quickly. When we watched a nest of cardinals I was surprised how quickly they learned to fly and were gone.


  5. Beth F / Jun 11 2011 6:47 am

    Loved learning more about the tree swallow and loved the photos.


  6. BermudaOnion / Jun 11 2011 6:49 am

    Oh wow, what a wonderful photo. I’m amazed at the number of feathers in the nest.


  7. Louise / Jun 11 2011 7:39 am

    Wow, how lucky to be able to see this, for you and us. It’s so amazing to me that they can grow from those little pink nubbins to sleek birds able to leave the nest in 3 weeks. Fascinating. Thanks.


  8. Mary / Jun 11 2011 7:59 am

    As usual, great photos. So they move to the nest boxes? The feathers come in quite quickly – a good thing since they look so exposed without them!


    • Leslie / Jun 11 2011 7:20 pm

      The boxes were put up for Bluebirds but the Tree Swallows and Chickadees will nest in them too.


  9. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Jun 11 2011 8:19 am

    This was so interesting Leslie. How delicate that nest looks. Very innovative birds.


  10. TheBookGirl / Jun 11 2011 9:18 am

    Fascinating as always Leslie 🙂
    I am amazed at how much the birds change in that one week — they go from looking like alien beings to “normal” birds with feathers and all, lol.

    When the nest box is put up, is it empty and the birds line it themselves, or is it sort of started off with bits and pieces first?


    • Leslie / Jun 11 2011 7:21 pm

      The boxes are put up empty and are cleaned out each year. The birds do all this themselves.


  11. dixie / Jun 11 2011 10:01 am

    Fabulous photos! We have barn swallows in Austin – some nested in my neighbor’s tree last year and would do the swoop down at your head bit when you walked by on the sidewalk.


    • Leslie / Jun 11 2011 7:23 pm

      I was dive bombed by Barn Swallows last year when taking some photos of their nest. I had to hide behind a pole to get them to stop swooping down at me. I’ll post those in the next week or so.


  12. Debbie / Jun 11 2011 10:02 am

    Great Photos!! I love birds.


  13. Alyce / Jun 11 2011 11:05 am

    Three weeks is very quick to be ready to leave the nest. Those in the first photo must be just out of the egg.


    • Leslie / Jun 11 2011 7:24 pm

      They were one day old. I am always amazed that something that tiny can grow so fast.


  14. Helen Murdoch / Jun 11 2011 11:49 am

    Awesome photos, I can’t believe you captured them so soon after they hatched


    • Leslie / Jun 11 2011 7:26 pm

      The bird club nest box monitor was with us on the bird walk. He allowed us to see them up close. Otherwise I would never have had the opportunity to see them before they left the box.


  15. wldmtngrl / Jun 11 2011 11:54 am

    How wonderful to see such a rare sight. They look so vulnerable…hope they make it.


  16. Amy / Jun 11 2011 12:36 pm

    What an amazing photo, the new little ones are so tiny. It’s fascinating to think that in a rather short time they will go from teeny pink naked babies to look more like ther handsome, proud daddy! I love the photo of the dad, too, he looks so proud and watchful.

    I cannot believe how fast the little ones will grow. Nature is breath-takingly amazing.
    Thank you so much for the wonderful pics & great post.


  17. Sherrie / Jun 11 2011 12:58 pm

    Great snapshots! It won’t be long and they will flying away. Have a great day!

    Just Books


  18. dyane / Jun 11 2011 1:07 pm

    Wow!! great shots Leslie!! Amazing with no feathers yet …..great facts to go along with the photos. Thanks for sharing those!


  19. Suko / Jun 11 2011 7:03 pm

    Truly beautiful photos and post. 🙂


  20. Leslie / Jun 12 2011 1:41 am

    Thanks everyone for all the lovely comments. As always I’m glad you are enjoying my bird photos.


  21. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jun 13 2011 8:56 am

    Oh so adorable!


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