Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the June 27, 2009 Newsletter, issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of Grants Pass, Oregon:

At my friends' house a wooden nesting box only about five feet high is attached to a post in the blackberry patch. Having seen no House Sparrows or wrens in the area, when I first noticed the box I wondered whether any bird would choose a nest box so close to the ground. I was surprised, then, when one morning I spotted a female Tree Swallow, TACHYCINETA BICOLOR, carrying straw into the box, as shown below:

female Tree Swallow, TACHYCINETA BICOLOR

During several days of working near the nest in the orchard I never saw the male carrying straw but he was always there when the female did, perching on a wire right above the nest, issuing fervent streams of liquid chortles. You can see him intently watching below:


At http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Tree_Swallow/id a map shows the Tree Swallow's summer and winter distributions, and by clicking on the triangle under "Typical Voice" at the page's lower left you can hear the musical call the male made as I snapped the above picture.

Another pair of Tree Swallows nests in a dead pine snag at the edge of the pond above my trailer. I'm not sure whether they have nestlings yet but frequently I do see adults glide to their hole, tarry some moments, then sail away, so maybe they do. When I see this I recall this description at the Birds by Bent webpage at http://www.birdsbybent.com/ch81-90/treeswallow.html.

The nestling tree swallow is an attractive little bird when, well grown, it comes to the doorway and peers about, watching for its parents to come through the air with food. As it waits at the entrance its low forehead and immaculate throat call to mind a little frog sitting there in the box. Its eyes shine eagerly, and when the parents come near it stretches out toward them, its throat gleaming white against the dark interior.

What grace these little birds add to a summery day and how content I am that they are among us.

from the October 16, 2011 Newsletter issued from Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 kms north of Mahahual, Quintana Roo, México

Tree Swallows visit Mexico and Central America only during the Northern cold season. Lately they've been showing up here, as shown below:

Tree Swallows, TACHYCINETA BICOLOR, on power line

All-white underparts, including the throat, distinguish Tree Swallows from other Yucatán swallow species, except for Mangrove Swallows, who are stubbier and have white rumps -- rumps on a bird being the lower back. In the Yucatán we have eight swallow species, of which only three stay year round.