Thursday, October 09, 2008

Unusual feather on a Violet-green Swallow

I recently opened one of my Violet-green Swallow nestboxes to clean out the old nest and make it ready for the new season. I was surprised to find three dead swallows: an adult female and two nestlings that had apparently been within days of fledging when they died. I know that one young bird did fledge from this clutch, and for several days was often seen perched near the adult male on a wire near the nest. I assumed then that the female was seldom seen because she was searching for food for the other nestlings I could hear inside the nestbox. Now... the mystery. Why did she die in the box after successfully getting one of her young birds on the wing?

The second surprise was the feather (one on each side) with the white tip. I have never before seen a Violet-green Swallow (nor any photos of one) with this mark.


At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


On each wing, adult violet greens have three secondaries in a row edged in white. Looking at your photograph, it appears the bird was molting.

I enjoyed your blog and next box website - did you ever find out more about the beattles in the nest box?

Veronica Bowers, Director
Songbird Hospital of Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
Sebastopol, Ca

At 9:45 PM, Blogger FS said...

Thanks for the information about V-g Swallow secondaries. I didn't know that.

As for the beetles in the nestbox... Just more of the same behavior observed. In my mind, after watching this for four seasons, there can be no doubt that the swallows bring the beetles in alive and release them intentionally. But I have not yet been able to see exactly what they are doing while they're in there. More study needed.


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