Thursday, May 29, 2008

Violet-green Swallow and beetles, again

Yesterday I saw (by means of the camera in the nestbox) a beetle crawling around in the grass that the Violet-green Swallow has collected in her nest-building efforts, so I immediately suspected a repeat of what I've observed during each of the past two nesting seasons. Then today, while I was watching closely, I clearly saw the female Swallow enter the nestbox holding something small and dark in her bill. She quickly settled on the nest, and then deliberately lowered her face into the grass and released the object she was holding. She soon left the nestbox, and I continued watching for the next 15 minutes as that "object" moved around in that spot, and eventually emerged and began climbing up the side of the box. I hurried outside and waited for whatever it was to appear. When it did, I captured and photographed it. One of the beetle's wings had apparently been damaged during its capture and transport by the Swallow. I don't know what type of beetle this is, but whatever it is, this event strongly suggests (again) that the Swallow is doing something intended to clean up the nest in some way. More about similar things that happened during the past three seasons can be found at the "Swallow nestbox camera" link listed in the column to the right of the photos.


At 10:15 PM, Blogger Max said...


I saw your posting on OBOL and checked out your photos. The beetle looks like a water beetle in the family hydrophylidae. My wife and I spotted several of these in Pacific City below a space where violet greens nest.
I've never heard of swallows bringing beetles to nests, but I have had caterpillars living in nest boxes in New Mexico.


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