Tree Swallows do use nest boxes in NW Oklahoma
As part of our responsibilities as volunteers at the Byron Hatchery Watchable Wildlife Area, we monitor 15 bluebird nesting boxes on and around the Byron State Fish Hatchery. Naturally monitoring bluebird nesting activities is lots of fun but we had the additional pleasure of recording the nesting activities of a rare breeding bird for our area.
On March 16th, 2007 we observed Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) flying in the area. We were encouraged to find on March 23rd, feathers in the bottom of one of the nesting boxes. Finally on May 9th we found 3 white eggs that we identified as Tree Swallow. On May 14th 5 eggs were observed and the female had started incubation. On May 29th we found 4 baby tree swallows. By June 5th they had fledged. THEN, in another nesting box, also on May 9th we found another clutch of 3 white eggs. Eventually this pair laid 7 eggs. On June 7th we observed 7 tree swallow chicks. We continued to monitor their growth and on June 15th they fledged.
Tree swallows were not known to nest in Oklahoma until 1979, when they were found at Lake Etling in Cimarron County. The number of breeding pairs in the state has increased annually since then, primarily in areas near eastern Oklahoma reservoirs. Only one other nesting record exists for extreme northwestern Oklahoma and that appears to be in the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge between 1997- 2001.
Of course a pair of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialia) was
also using a nesting box on the trail. The pair fledged 5 young
bluebirds on June 11th.
We enjoyed monitoring the nesting boxes and what a thrill to record the nesting activities of such a rare breeding swallow in northwest Oklahoma. It amazed us how fast both the tree swallows and eastern bluebirds developed.