What a difference! From 14 active nests to one in just a few days time. From 109 resident Tree Swallows down to 8. And while the parents of the remaining late nest at Box 2 were working to feed their six young, I’ve been dismantling the rest of the grid for the year. First wipe the grease off the poles and remove the predator guards. Then take each box off its pole and remove the old nests. Finally, dig the poles out and replace the supporting rocks at the surface of each hole so I can relocate them again next spring. Oh, and lug everything across fields and hedgerow to my car for the ride home for box washing and disinfecting, and equipment storage. I sure wish I didn’t have to go through this ritual each year – I’m getting too old for it. I did decide to leave Boxes 3 and 4 up a bit longer – they seem to be favorite sunning and preening perches for those swallows that remain.
The fledging report is in for Boxes 5, 10 and 13 – all their nestlings lived to fly, bringing the total to an even 70 young produced in 2012, with a possibility of six more if those in Box 2 make it. This last brood looked good at 9 days old on 6/26, but I’m getting nervous about disturbing the parents. I’ve been giving the box a wide berth, because I feel the adults’ instinct to care for their young is now competing with the urge to join the flocks at the big upstate NY marshland complexes where the region’s Tree Swallows stage for migration. I suspect adults at late nests become more prone to desert as summer advances, and since I don’t want to be the cause there’ll be no more box checks and no banding of nestlings at late Box 2.
I have to say Box 2 looks pretty isolated, but it is seldom alone, for passing juveniles are drawn to boxes containing nestlings as if by a magnet. They perch on the roofs and at entrances, and sometimes even enter the boxes, and they must be a real nuisance to the parents at times.
However, this last set of parents may have an advantage over the earlier nesters because the immediate grid area has far fewer Tree Swallows to feed now that so many adults and juveniles have left. Perhaps the Box 2 parents won’t have to search quite so hard for the flying insects to feed their brood during the week or so until they finally fledge around 7/5.
Oh well, I’ve stalled around long enough. It’s time to wash and disinfect boxes for off-season storage.
Here are the Control Sheets for 6/28/12. Click thumbnails for expanded views.