Today begins a series of excellent photos of tree swallows tending their broods, which will be posted from time to time; they were taken by Emilio d’Alise, whose notes and IDs are indented. Click on the photos to enlarge them.
Nest Competition and Feeding
From 2007 to 2013, I lived in Colorado and worked in Woodland Park (8,100 ft. elevation). We had an empty lot next to the office, and we put up a Bluebird house. For the first three years, we had Bluebirds nesting in it, but in 2011, a pair of Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) moved in, and returned each year for the next three years. This post from 2011 documents the final weeks before that year’s brood fledged — they all fledged, but a hawk got one of them —and it includes photos and videos.
But, the year that I got serious about photographing them was 2012, and these are some of the photos from those sessions.
As I mentioned, the birdhouse is sized for Bluebirds, which are smaller birds, so the typical Tree Swallows brood of 5-7 makes for a pretty tight fit just before they fledge. Early on, the adults will enter the nest to feed the chicks.
Nest Entry to Feed
Once large enough, the chicks fight for position at the entrance. This sequence of photos — again, from 2012 — shows one bird displacing another at the entrance and scoring a tasty bug (at least I assume it’s tasty to them).