Each spring, eight species of swallows — including this Barn Swallow — migrate north from the tropics to nest in North America. Tree Swallows and Purple Martins are especially dependent on man-made nestboxes. Tree Swallows nest over much of the continent, while Purple Martins are most prevalent east of the Rockies. Consider putting up nestboxes at your place and invite these beautiful, swift birds to be your summer companions!
Swallows Return to Nest Boxes
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
[sounds of Tree Swallows]
Each spring, eight species of swallows wing north from the tropics to nest in North America. The fleet and graceful flight of swallows livens up the sky like no other birds. [sounds of Purple Martins]
Two of the eight species, Tree Swallows and Purple Martins, are especially dependent on man-made nest boxes. Tree Swallows nest over much of the continent, while Purple Martins are most prevalent east of the Rockies. The elegant, streamlined Tree Swallow measures just under six inches in length, but has a nearly 15-inch wingspan. Male Tree Swallows show deep, shiny blue above and gleaming white below. [brief song from Tree Swallow]
Purple Martins, on the other hand, are the largest swallows on the continent, 8 inches long with an 18-inch wingspan. [brief song of Purple Martin] Male martins are unmistakable – glossy blue black all over, while the females are more grayish.
Tree Swallows favor nest boxes at fence-post height, while most Purple Martin nest boxes – which are often designed to house multiple pairs – are set 10 to 15 feet above ground. So put up nest boxes at your place and invite these beautiful, swift birds to be your summer companions. [sounds of Tree Swallows]
I’m Mary McCann. [sounds of Purple Martins]
Bird sounds provided by the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Tree Swallow  recorded by G.F. Budney; Purple Martin  recorded by G.A. Keller. Ambient drawn from Tree Swallow track.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org May 2017 Narrator: Mary McCann