The importance of finding a good site for your project:
Due to chronic shortages of cavities Tree Swallows will try to nest in boxes put in
dangerous places, where they face predation or nest competition.  You don't want to
attract them to sites like that!  You want to offer them nest boxes where they can
reproduce unharmed, so finding the right site is essential.  You know their basic
requirements.  Now you can start searching for a project site that meets their needs.

Try to find sites that:
  • Are near a good Tree Swallow food supply, i.e., a buggy wetland.
  • Are wide open for easy swallow flight and easy viewing for you.
  • Are large enough to accommodate your boxes
  • Allow box placement that minimizes competition from other species.
  • Allow box placement away from predator travel lanes.
  • Are at a convenient distance from your home.

The very best sites are large open fields in rural areas.  Fields near wetlands
are preferred, but not absolutely necessary
.  Project fields should be large
enough so swallow boxes can be clustered out in the middle, away from
houses, barns, woods, hedgerows, and water edges (see example below).
  • Now It might seem that putting swallow boxes way out in the open makes them
    vulnerable, but the opposite is true.  
  • Most songbirds hide in dense vegetation when danger approaches, but not
    Tree Swallows.  They rely on their flying ability to get away.  
  • Nest boxes that are well out in the open allow the swallows to spot incoming
    danger at a distance.  
  • Plus, the worst predators of Tree Swallow nests hunt along edges of waterways,
    shores, woods and hedgerows, and Tree Swallows' worst cavity competitors
    prefer boxes located near human dwellings or in shrubby areas.  Placing boxes
    out in open fields greatly reduces these risks.  
  • So, to repeat, look for large open fields far from buildings when scouting for
    potential project sites.  
  • Avoid fields used by livestock that could knock poles over and fields that may be
    treated with pesticides or herbicides.

  • Our Salmon Creek Nest Box Project is in the middle of the field below, near the
    marshes and streams of the Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area
    of upstate New York.  The three boxes visible show the 100 foot or 30 meter
    spacing recommended for Tree Swallow boxes.

Get permission:
  • You may be lucky and have a great location on your own property.  If you don't
    you'll need to get permission to erect boxes.  
  • Often, the best potential locations are on public lands overseen by government
    natural resource personnel, or on land managed by private conservation or
    sporting groups.  These folks may be happy to let you put nest boxes up.  
  • Private landowners, too, may agree to let you use their land, and may help if
  • In every case you must ask, so be prepared to explain what you intend to do
    and why.

Click here for Next Step: Building or Buying Nest Boxes for
Tree Swallows.

Finding Good Sites for Tree Swallow Nest Boxes
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