I checked the Lambton Tree Swallow box this morning. Actually I have passed it a few times this week as I knew it would be any day soon for the birds to leave the box. Sometime between yesterday afternoon and this morning they did. Yesterday morning there was still activity at the box and I could see an adult bird's head sticking out of the entry hole. Since I knew they were close to fledge time, I would view from a distance and leave them be.
This morning though, no birds to be seen nor heard. I still made a slow ninja-like approach to the box. It was very quiet. As I neared the box, I caught a whiff of something... dead bird. I placed my hand over the hole even though I was certain it was empty of any living birds, and I tapped the side with my screwdriver. Nothing. Even as I began to open the box, I still kept my free hand over the hole just in case. The smell was stronger now and flies began to fly out of the nest.
I pull out the nest and I see there is one dead juvenile Swallow. He's been dead for a number of days now judging by his size and the decay. I had a moment of sadness for him but reminded myself his brothers and sisters made it out.
I decided to lift his body and inspect the nest further. It was after this I found one of his siblings dead beneath him. This one died early on as you can see the difference between the two. Damn!
Who knows what the cause was for either birds' death? It's best not to think too hard into it now since there was no obvious signs to anything.
I cleaned the box out, setting the little ones in the grass, knowing what is left of them will feed other things. The nest remains will deteriorate and blow away over time.
Three out of five young Swallows successfully fledged. That's moderate success for the first season of having a couple boxes on this slope in the Lambton area. It keeps me in check too, since I had a fantastic 12 for 12 fledged birds in the Forgotten Land this year. Area One is up next and I know it's going to be full of ups and downs.
As you can see from this blog entry, cleaning out the nest boxes is important. It may not matter to some people what nests inside; how many fledged, how many died. But over time, of not cleaning them out, imagine what the inside of the box turns into? If I am able to educate and influence one person to do something with a neglected nest box trail they know about (even if it means taking the boxes down), or is planning on setting up a few boxes somewhere, then this nest blog has been worth it. Taking care of the boxes helps take care of the birds.