Mark Borden of Whidbey Island has invited Violet-green and Tree Swallows to nest in his fence. Why? Originally, it was to control the insects on his horse farm. He once watched as a horse fly flew across the pasture. In came a Tree Swallow, and phwapp! It grabbed that fly! So he built a nestbox out of a leftover piece of horse-fence. Within a day, a pair of swallows moved into it. Mark then figured out how to put nestboxes in several posts along the fence. Bring on the swallows!
Mark Borden and the Swallows -
A Horse Fence with Houses for Swallows
Interviewed by Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Swallows and farm machinery ambient]
Join me today at the Whidbey Island farm of Mark Borden and his family. Barn Swallows nest in the goat pen, Cliff Swallows against the barn; Violet-green and Tree Swallows in the fence. In the fence? Let’s hear from Mark:
(G4T4) What I’ve done is … I’ve taken our vinyl horse fence and modified every fourth post to make a bird nest. (Hound is barking).
Why did Mark go to the trouble?
Well … I just love birds of course, but the original reason I did it was to keep the insects down on my horse farm…. One time I was watching my mule – he had this giant silver and black horse fly trying to bite it …. The horse fly flew off across the pasture… in came a swallow, a Tree Swallow, and just phwapp! (Mark smacks his hands)… I couldn’t believe a swallow took on such a huge horse fly, …So I thought ‘That’s the answer!’ So I built a box out of left over piece of horse fence … and I put it up and within a day, a pair of swallows moved into it. … So then I looked and thought… the fence is only ten feet away from this box …2:29 And that was the epiphany – I can put a nest box right in the fence! I … put one in the fence. I stepped back and literally within a minute, they found the nest box and went right into it!
See pictures and learn more at our website, birdnote.org.
Calls of Violet-green Swallows provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York; recorded by R.V. Angstadt.
Sounds of ambient swallows (Tree, Cliff, Barn and Violet-green) and farm recorded by C. Peterson.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org June 2013 Narrator: Mary McCann