Monday, July 8, 2013

Are mosquitoes making your backyard cookouts itchy? Try tree swallows & bluebirds.

Tree swallows take flying insects on the wing. Once the tree swallows come back to our house daytime mosquitoes disappear from the our yard.

A nesting box designed for bluebirds will also accommodate tree swallows. They are easy to find or if you have the skills you can make your own.

I use metal wire fence posts to mount the nesting boxes. Predators (mostly squirrels) can’t climb them easily.  If they can get to the nest box squirrels will chew at the entrance hole so they can get inside.

Bluebirds require more territory for nesting. Their boxes need to be about 60 feet or more from each other. However bluebirds and tree swallows will tolerate each other so put up nest boxes in pairs of two a few feet apart. It’s very important to put the boxes at least 10 feet from cover that can hide a predator.

This is how my boxes are arranged in the yard.

As you can see from the photos cats also can’t climb the metal poles. She only tried this one time.

Tree swallows use aerial tactics when driving off cats. One will come from behind and get the cat’s attention while a second, or sometimes third bird swoops down and pecks the cat’s head.  Now my cats avoid the tree swallows air space and hide under the porch furniture.

Duck flank feathers lining the nest with 4 white eggs.

Check out the video below. Sorry for the shaky camera, it’s just an iPhone. You can see the little tree swallow poking his head out at the end for just a second.

It’s almost time for the swallows to fly south. But blue birds nest a second or even a third time.
For more information check out:
 Tree Swallow 

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology