Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Violet-green Swallow egg

The Violet-green Swallow now has five eggs to keep warm. One of them is partially visible in this photo. She is spending much more time inside now, and appears to be sleeping a lot. Maybe she's resting up for the time, about two weeks from now, when she will suddenly have (we hope) five hungry babies to feed.


At 9:27 PM, Blogger thecitychicken said...

Today had some bird drama. The violet-green swallows that made a nest in a bird house on our porch had babies that hatched a week ago. Today some non-native European house finches/sparrows were yanking the baby swallows out of their house. I noticed it and put two babies back in the bird house. That didn't stop them; they kept trying to yank out babies. I read that they can tend to do that to weaker, native species. So I was dashing around trying to think of what to do, because I can't stand guard and shoo away the finches all day. So I went ahead and took down the swallow box. I looked inside and found four live babies. They were about half-way to fully fledged. Not ready to go yet. There were some maggots in there, but they just appeard to be living in the poop, not on the babies. I took down all the other unoccupied nest boxes and moved them. Interestingly enough, the finches (the bad guys) immediately found where I put one of the boxes and stuck around it. Good; that sort of distracted them from the baby swallows. Then I put the baby swallows in a plastic shoe box with some of their nesting material. I sprinkled some chicken pesticide dust in there (wild birds often have skin parasites and I thought it might also kill any maggots. I know, I'm grossing myself out, too.) Then I screwed the plastic shoe box right back where the next box was. An hour went by with no sign of mom or dad swallow. Then, they showed up. They circled and circled and made about 75 fly-bys before they would get near the nest box. I learned that the babies and parents call back and forth to each other continually if they are in ear-shot. The babies kept cheeping which kept encouraging the parents. Finally, one landed on the edge of the box, but briefly. After numerous more fly-bys, they actually started feeding the babies in the clear plastic shoe box. Since it's clear, I can see what's happening. So, pretty much I saved the babies from the finches, but if I hadn't have messed with nature and put up artificial bird houses to begin with, the violet-green swallows would have made mud nests in a safer spot, probably. I hope they make it another week and fly away.

At 10:02 PM, Anonymous The Flycatcher said...

I'm pleased to discover another ally in the fight against House Sparrows (technically a weaver finch.) Congratulations for winning this battle! And please don't worry about your "artificial" birdhouses. Violet-green Swallows do not build mud nests. They always use cavities of some kind, and House Sparrows can follow them just about anywhere. The way to really help the swallows is to make the opening to your bird houses too tight for the House Sparrows, i.e. 7/8 inch high by 2 1/2 inches wide.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger David Morris said...

Another way to foil the sparrows is to seal the opening of the bird box with duct tape until about May 1 (on southern Vancouver Island). By this time the soarrows have usually nested somewhere else but the violet green swallows are still looking for a suitable site.


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