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

Tree Swallows Pair Bonding

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

Tree Swallow

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?

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.