Tree Swallows

We have been trying unsuccessfully for the last two years to attract tree swallows to the bird houses in our yard.  Although the holes are the right size for swallows and the houses are located at the right height above the ground, the swallows have not nested in them.  Several pairs of swallows even visited our yard this spring and showed interest in the bird houses, but (so far) they have not nested in them.

At least I did manage to get this photo of a swallow perched on the roof of one of the bird houses.  I love the swallow’s pose, even though the direction of the light was not ideal:


In another part of our yard, I watched as two swallows took turns checking out a different bird house.  First one swallow perched on the roost, peering into the house and chattering back and forth with its mate who waited on the railing of our deck.  “What do you think?”  “It’s nice and clean inside, but I still think I liked the house down the street better.”  “Let me look now.”  The swallow on the house flew up and the one on the railing landed on the roof of the bird house.  “I’ll check the roof for leaks….  Everything looks good here, but I’m still not sure about it.”  “I agree.  Let’s check out some of the others.”  They both flew away.


In the end, they must have decided against all of the bird houses in our yard, because all remain empty.

Maybe next year the swallows will return and reconsider.  For now, at least I have the photos.

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4 Responses to Tree Swallows

  1. A few years ago, while living in a rural house in Wisconsin, I had 5 nestboxes up. My target species to attract was the Eastern Bluebird. Every year I would have one pair take up residence, but then I would also have one pair of Tree Swallows. One factor I did have, which you may not, was chickens! Tree Swallows love to line their nests with feathers. Maybe you need to add a couple hens in the yard, if you don’t already. Maybe the addition of some fine nesting material nearby may tip the balance towards the Tree Swallows picking your boxes next year.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for the comment, Carolyn! We actually do have a pair of hens in our yard, but maybe distributing nesting material about the yard (especially in the vicinity of the bird houses) would help. I suspect that there may be something about the general environment of our yard that the swallows don’t like, but I really don’t know.

  2. loren says:

    Unfortunately I’ve had the same bad luck. Though Tree Swallows fly over my house quite often, only sparrows have actually occupied the birdhouse I specifically built to Tree Swallow specifications.

    • Heather says:

      I’d be happy to even have sparrows nesting in our bird houses! Last year a pair of chickadees nested in one house, but this year I think they are all sitting empty.

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