Every few years I am lucky enough to have Violet-green Swallows (Tachycineta thalassina) take up residence on one of my Bluebird trails. This year I have two pair nesting on two different trails! The featured image above shows a female incubating eggs from my first resident breeding pair back in 2007.
Violet-green Swallows will nest solitarily or in colonies and in my experience seem much more mellow than other swallow species. This is a male that was perched near the nest box of this years occupants. Click on photos for full sized images.
These elegant birds nest in cavities of various sites, including trees, cliffs, and nesting boxes. Less common but also recorded are nests in sand banks, streamside cut banks, and old nests of Cliff and Bank swallows. They like trees in open areas, like open groves or woodland edges. Nests are usually in hollow parts or in old woodpecker nests, between rocks in cliffs or in porous vapor holes of volcanic formations, and in nesting boxes under eaves of buildings or on trees1.
The Violet-green Swallow nest is an accumulation of dry grasses with a cup lined with feathers and sometimes hair or fine fibers. The four to six eggs are white and unmarked.
I have discovered that my iPhone takes an excellent close-up photo of the inside of the nest box without using a flash. I took this photo of newly hatched nestlings just the other day during my regular monitoring check. It’s not as clear as the photo of the eggs above but I did not want to disturb the female as she was circling the nest to resume her duties.
I was quite surprised to see how small these newly hatched nestlings are. There appear to be three newly hatched chicks and one egg unhatched (this nest had four eggs). The nestling in the middle of the photo is the most recognizable with its head turned to our left, the dark spot on the head is where its eye will be and the white area below is the beginning of a beak. You can also see the bird’s leftt wing sticking out.
The nestlings eyes open around day 8 to 10 and feathers break sheaths at day 10 to 13. These nestlings are probably around 10 days old except the runt seen in the middle of the photo.
The young leave the nest at 23 to 25 days of age and are primarily fed on the wing. This is mom coming back to the nest box to check on her new brood.
And another shot of the proud male perched nearby.
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the habitat manager for the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Stamp.
Donna's 2014 Year List - 547
Redgannet's 2014 Year List - 520
Carlos's 2014 Year List - 346
Corey's 2014 Year List - 303
Jochen's 2014 Year List - 301
Clare M's 2014 Year List - 273
Duncan's 2014 Year List - 174
Carrie's 2014 Year List - 063
Carlos's 2013 Year List - 1587
Jochen's 2013 Year List - 553
Corey's 2013 Year List - 511
Donna's 2013 Year List - 438
Duncan's 2013 Year List - 430
Clare M's 2013 Year List - 368
Redgannet's 2013 Year List - 212
Larry's 2013 Year List - 206
Redgannet's 2012 Year List - 660
Jochen's 2012 Year List - 542
Corey's 2012 Year List - 525
Felonious Jive's 2012 Year List - 404
Duncan's 2012 Year List - 402
Clare M's 2012 Year List - 300
Clare K's 2012 Year List - 040
Greg's 2012 Year List - 004