This is such an exciting time of year. Each day brings more returning bird species. Soon the wildflowers will begin to bloom and the trees will leaf out. Tree swallows joined the list of new arrivals yesterday.
Tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) are the earliest swallows to return to Modoc County CA. After wintering in southern United States and the Caribbean, these slender songbirds breed and spend the summer in the northern tier of states and Canada. Their early appearance is probably due, in part, to the fact that tree swallows are hardier than other swallows. Swallows are primarily insect eaters. Tree swallows can also feed on seeds early in the season before insects are plentiful – another reason they can return to northern habitats before other swallows.
With iridescent blue-green upper parts contrasting with clean white below, tree swallows are fascinating to watch as they fly about in bright sunshine. Their notched tail is also used for field identification.
Tree swallows breed in abandoned tree cavities, almost always near water. They are also fond of nest boxes provided by dedicated humans.
These tree swallows were checking out nest boxes and other possible nesting sites at Ash Creek Wildlife Area.