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Mark Borden and the Swallows

A win-win for horses -- and swallows!

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!

Full Transcript

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,

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   June 2013   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# bordenm-01-2010-07-14-MM

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