Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tree Swallows; Early April Migration to Northern Illinois

A Tree Swallow, Rock Cut State Park, IL; 5/23/2010.
A Tree Swallow, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/2/2010.
Tree Swallows are one of the earliest swallows to be seen in northern Illinois each Spring. They are very colorful with a bright turquois head and back which look metallic when glinting in the sunlight (Above two pics), Their bright blue-green is offset with a snowy white throat, breast and underparts and with darker wings. Females and Juveniles, who have not earned their turquois colors yet, and are quite drab. From a distance, they can be confused with Bank Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows.

I find Tree Swallows to be very bold, letting me get quite close to photograph them. They nest in tree cavities (thus its name) but also like to nest in man made birdhouses (Below).

A Tree Swallow taking advantage of a birdhouse, Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, Horicon, WI; 5/29/2011

Tree Swallow, Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, Horicon, WI; 5/29/2011

In summer months, Tree Swallows are found throughout most of the U.S. except for the most southern states, and into most of Canada. They will spend their winters on the southern Pacific and Atlantic coasts, as well as throughout the Gulf Coast States and all of Mexico and Central America.

A pair of Tree Swallows, one (left) apparently not happy with the other one
encroachingon its territory, Rock Cut State Park, IL; 5/2/2010.
The last two summers I could gaurantee finding Tree Swallows at a certain marsh in Rock Cut State Park from early April on throughout the entire summer. This Spring, however, they have not seen them at this site. Last summer I could stay still near a particular sign and only have to wait a couple of minutes before a swallow would land on it to rest. (Above) I enjoyed a bit of territorial competition, as one Tree Swallow was sitting on the sign, and soon another one landed on the sign. The first swallow went into a chattering rage, as if "screaming" at the new landee to get off of its sign. The second swallow ignored the first one completely and let it "scream." Eventually the first one flew off and the second one stayed put.

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