News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

The Tree Swallow [Tachycineta bicolor] is about five inches long and has a forked tail, sparkling metallic green to blue head, and white feathers on its underside. Females are duller in color than males. In North America, Tree Swallows breed from Alaska east to Newfoundland, Canada and south to California, Colorado, Nebraska, and Maryland. It winters north to southern California, the Gulf Coast, and the Carolinas. They nest in aged trees occasionally using old woodpecker nests. Nest boxes over meadows draw these vocal birds as they display amazing soaring flight displays. In autumn they will gather by the thousands and perform murmurations covering miles before they settle down to roost for the night.

The female Tree Swallow lays four to six eggs in a cup-shaped nest. Their nests are plentifully lined with soft materials, especially feathers. The pale pink eggs hatch in about two weeks. The chicks are fed a diet of insects then fledge in about three weeks. The Tree Swallow can be found in wet habitats like flooded meadows, marshes, lakeshores, streams, and open areas near woods swooping and capturing insects on the wing.

A group of swallows are referred to as a gulp, kettle, swoop, herd, flight, or richness.

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