Warning: Gruesome News

I started monitoring nestboxes several years ago and it has been a great way to learn about birds.  You would think after doing this for a few years, you would have figured everything out…  But this year there are  a couple of things that are kind of throwing me for a loop.  For example, have any of you been experiencing and troubles with Tree Swallows this year?

Tree Swallow FatalityIt is not uncommon to find dead adult Tree Swallows in boxes, especially in early spring.  Tree Swallows depend on insects for food and if there is a hard frost or long periods of cold, rainy weather when they return to their nesting sites, they could die from starvation.  Every year I sadly remove one or two dead Tree Swallows from the boxes in early spring.

The picture at right was taken in mid April in 2007.  Still, by May 1st, we had nests with eggs.  In the picture below, I was showing a group of students the Tree Swallow nest in the backyard.

Checking the Tree Swallow BoxAnd by May 30th, we had babies.Tree Swallow Babies

 Things went similarly last year.  This year, 2009, is a different story.  So far this year, I have not seen a single scrap of nest material from Tree Swallows in any of my boxes.  Chickadees, House Wrens, and Eastern Bluebirds are all well on their way to families… indeed, a box of chickadees hatched this week.

Last week I found 4 dead adult Tree Swallows in the boxes at Audubon.

If anyone has information about something weird happening with Tree Swallows, please let me know!

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2 thoughts on “Warning: Gruesome News

  1. hmm an unusual problem. Where are you located? All my birds are behind this season including the tree swallows. In NY on Long Island the spring has been cool and wet. As you know wet means no flying insects so no food for tree swallows. One last thought about the dead tree swallows. Did any of them have their heads pecked in? This is a sign of house sparrows attacking to get the box. Good luck

  2. oh Jennifer, that’s way too bad! This year for the first time in several, I actually have three nesting pairs of tree swallows and for now, they seem to be doing fine.
    Have you been finding any other dead birds? I hope somebody isn’t spraying something toxic for insects around there….

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