Whenever I see Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) I know that Spring is upon us. I have witnessed small groups of these gorgeous aerial acrobats twice, from an excellent vantage point, engage in what seems to be a courtship or pair bonding display.
Here you see, what appears to be an adult male clinging to a snag, being approached by a yearling female sporting the mostly brown plumage with a hint of greenish-blue.
This activity seems to be centered around the small hole in the snag which the male has been checking out, but is obviously too small for a nesting cavity.
The male assumes a rather vertical posture and the female comes toward him, both with mouths open
This is another encounter where it is difficult to determine the sex of these two birds but I believe the bird on the right is a female
They may make several passes at each other with their mouths open like this
And then actually connect with a mock feeding display
Of course this all takes place in the blink of an eye so I never really saw this mouth to mouth connection until I viewed these photos from the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge blind I took a few weeks ago.
I concluded that this must be pair bonding behavior, after all, Spring is in the air! Does anyone know for sure?
Here is another photo of this beautiful species.
Watching the Tree Swallow, or most any swallow, makes me wish I could fly myself, how about you?
Some awesome shots!
@Dan, Nick and Andy … thanks you guys for the comments. I really enjoyed shooting these Tree Swallows, especially since I get to see them grow up in my nest boxes every summer!
Hello reviewing your site I love your pics of the tree swallow. I now have a pair here but not decided where to nest yet I have several places for them. Last yr we had flooding rains that got my tree swallows nest wet my grandsons had collected feathers of all my birds that feed here. I gently took out the little swallow and boy was mommy hot on my trail I had made a new nest of pine straw and feathers and by dark both male and female were there to check on their little one 6 days later he flew away healthy and happy. It was so awesome to me.. I too photograph birds flowers nature whatever I am an amateur but sure enjoy it. In the spring you will find me outside with Binoculars and camera in hand. You have some awesome pics enjoy your site Bev Burton in south central Kentucky
No doubt….awesome beautiful shots! Thank God spring is here….I’m so burnt on winter…Thanks.
Hi Larry, lovely shots! When did you say you got them?
@Beverly thank you very much. What a great story of you saving the wet nestling by building a new dry nest for it! I know how aggressive Tree Swallows can be, I get dive bombed whenever I do nest checks. You might want to make sure your nest box design is waterproof and then point the entrance away from the direction your storms come in. I had a few nest boxes that allowed water to enter where the roof connected to the back of the box and I changed the roof design so that it overlapped the back. It’s heartbreaking to find dead chicks in a wet nest. I’m glad you saved your Tree Swallow chick. Good luck to you this season!
@Birdlover thanks for the comment
@Redgannet the 1st and 3rd shots are from my first visit to SNWR blind #1 back on March 7th, 2009. All other photos are from my last visit February 20th, 2011. You can see more of my Tree Swallow photos on my Flickr page.
Hi, the swallows have returned, but seem to be just hanging around and not yet engaged in nest building. So you think this is because of the cold spring this year? They usually return and begin immediately on the nest. Also, do you know if previous years offspring assist in any way-i think bluebirds may do this but don’t know if swallows do. Thanks! Lisa