Tree Swallow

Tachycineta bicolor

Image of a tree swallow, Tachycineta bicolor, perched on the top of a branch.
Image by Keith Williams on Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Physical: Tree Swallows are a sight to behold, boasting a length that ranges from 5.1 to 5.9 inches and a wingspan extending from 11.8 to 13.8 inches. These agile flyers shine with an iridescent blue-green on their upper parts, contrasting beautifully with their crisp white underbellies. Their streamlined bodies are accompanied by a slightly notched tail and pointed wings, optimizing them for swift flight. Their small, black eyes, set against a petite beak, add a touch of intrigue to their appearance.

Habitat: True to their name, Tree Swallows have an affinity for open woodlands, especially those near water sources like lakes, ponds, or marshes. These habitats provide them with the open space they love for hunting flying insects. They’re also commonly seen gracefully skimming over fields and wetlands.

Feeding: Tree Swallows are aerial acrobats when it comes to feeding. With an appetite primarily for flying insects, they swoop and swerve in mid-air, catching their meals on the go. Their diet includes beetles, flies, and winged ants, among others. During colder seasons when insects become scarce, they’re known to switch to a diet of berries, especially bayberries.

Breeding: These swallows are cavity-nesters, often seeking out old woodpecker holes, tree crevices, or nest boxes for laying eggs. Their nests are intricately lined with feathers, often making them look like soft, fluffy cups. After laying a clutch of 4-7 eggs, the female takes charge of incubation, while the male stands guard, ensuring the safety of his mate and the nest.

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