The Love Shack

The Love Shack

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Another Sweep

So with the success, nothing short of a miracle to me with those Bluebirds, it was time for another sweep of the other nest boxes. What a change from the last sweep and seeing so many adult birds sitting on nests! Suddenly there was lots of hatches, and many weren't that new either. Great parents keeping their young warm during the cold wet days we endured! I will break this blog up with photos from my walk and share some of my finds. This lone box was my first to check. It sits to the north end of Area One.
Interesting is once again, just like last year, a beautiful nest was built up inside, but then abandoned. I wonder why?
New hatches in the next box I checked! These chicks are mere hours old. This is the youngest bunch of Tree Swallows I found in my check.
Older hatches in the next box. Anyone remember this one from my other blog? There's that Blue Jay feather in the nest. During nest building one of the adults picked it up somewhere in the field and brought it back as nesting material.
More hatches, days younger than the last box.
Even more hatches! Aside from that first box with nothing, every other box through my inspection is doing great. As you can see, it's not easy to count heads in the nest at this stage, which is why I try to get egg counts before the hatches.
I'm heading to the B-section of Area One now. I'm really happy with how it's going this season. So many nests. So many hatches. And then this was my next find.If you look closely at this photo, you can see there's an adult bird in the nest with the 5 young birds. The adult is dead. I could smell it as I neared the box. I knew something died inside but didn't know who.
The chicks were alive and well. I saw momma Tree Swallow nearby, watching me. Dad died inside the box. How? Why? I don't know. But in nature there's no time for such set backs, life must go on, and I believe that the female pushed the male off to the corner of the box the best she could. It gets pretty crammed inside these nest boxes in the last days before the young fledge and having a dead adult sure doesn't help. I removed the stinking decomposing body and hope everyone is going to be okay with one adult tending to all 5 young. Interesting additional bit is that this box had the nest with the 5 very young birds I found dead inside from last year.
This unfortunate discovery is good reason for nest box monitoring. Some scenarios both adults disappear and abandon the young. I've heard of people relocating the young birds to other nest boxes that could accommodate them. Sometimes it is successful. Sometimes it's too late. But still worth a try. I am glad I saw the female otherwise I don't know what I would have done other than stress. All our boxes are maxed out with young, most containing 5 or 6. I've had a couple occasions recently where people have questioned all this nest box monitoring. Here ya go people! Next up was Wood Duck Alfie's box. Success! And no ants. Big shout out to a friend of mine who stepped in and got that t-bar greased.
Last box to check was the Love Shack. As mentioned in another blog, past years we had an abandoned nest containing eggs and full of ants, a dummy Wren nest, and last year no activity. This year success.
It was difficult to see inside because of the nest height. I gently felt around for eggs or little birds. There was 5 just days old Tree Swallows within.
I would like to add that I do not make a habit of handling the birds like here. I really wanted to get an idea of what was going on inside. I took a couple cell phone photos before I placed him back inside with the others. The myth about holding a baby bird and your scent would have the parents reject it is just that... a myth. I sometimes think that myth should continue because it would keep a lot of people from curiously handling baby birds. It's one of the top questions I get down at the Peregrine Falcon watch "won't the parents reject the chick after you picked it up off the sidewalk?" If I had not been shown all about nest box monitoring through a few guided walks, I would never touch any of the young birds. I still don't but in a situation like above mentioned, really wanting a count of the hatches, I did. I also went through the Forgotten Land. Everything going well in that area with the 3 nests I've found. Here is a YouTube link to the sounds from outside one of the boxes, just to give you a little more of an experience. The young birds promptly shut up when I stepped closer. Oh, and the parents came swooping down at my head. Hard to tell that there are 5 birds in this box, eh.
And here are 5 new hatches in one of the other boxes.
I passed the third box, but did not open it. It's the box that is ready to come apart and I have decided to leave it be until after I am certain the nest is done, the birds are out and about. There was 6 eggs in it when I discovered it. They should be gone any time now according to my day counts. So, in all, we've got 71 hatches through 13 Tree Swallow nests. It's quite a year for them, almost doubling everything from last year. Let's wish them all the best, hope they all make it out of the box and help continue the existence of their species. It's hard to believe that one or two more blogs to go for my Toronto Nest Blog and that's it until 2018. I do have a couple after season blogs in mind as I've been in communication with "The Individual" regarding the Forgotten Land and I have an idea to propose to some of you reading my nest blog for next year. But ya gotta wait until the snow is falling for that one. See you all again in a couple weeks. As always, thanks for checking this blog out and sticking with me through the season.


  1. Hoping next year to be able to get out with you more on your checks. It sure has been an interesting year, full of ups and downs, but I think mostly ups.

  2. Fantastic blog! I'm invested in joy and stress with my own boxes. I only need to walk a few yards to mine and I'm wary each time, but not giving up!

  3. Tree Swallows scoped out my new birdhouse but didn't nest in it this year,much to my disappointment. They came back yesterday & scoped it out again ... not sure what that means, if anything.

  4. This is really great Rob! I like seeing the baby Swallows in various stages of growth here. Interesting. Thank you for sharing with us all about these nesting birds.

  5. Thanks for sharing this is amazing