Dead Swallows and my Cousins Blog!
Spider photo by kirispupis
It has been such a busy week for me and I am trying to get things done before the weather gets better. Just seems like everything is happening at once!! I did get out today and checked all the bluebird boxes before all the birdies start building their nest. My stomach dropped as soon as I looked in the first box with 9 dead swallows in it. This was the worse feeling since I monitor about 50 different boxes here in Allegany State Park. I then couldn’t help but to do the math in my head, uggg!! I quickly ran back to my truck for the rubber gloves and a grocery bag to put them in. I closely inspected every one of the birds that I removed for bands or anything else that I could find on them. Lucky many of the other boxes I checked were empty and those few which did have swallows in them only had 1 or 2 dead birds in them. I probably removed about 20-25 birds total from the boxes and is much better than I had originally expected (but still very sad to find). Surprisingly none of them had bands on their legs but I did find that 90% of the birds were adults. I only found one bluebird pair who had already started nest building (but have a suspicion they did this before the storm hit). I am anticipating that there are 7 bluebird pairs on territory which is much better than most years and with the warmer weather they should be getting busy here soon.
Photos by kirispupis
Just a few hours ago I learned that my cousin has a wonderful blog at Joe Calev’s Weblog. Since high school graduation we lost connections and gone our separate ways. What is great about family is that over the past year we have reconnected and through flickr we have found ourselves talking about photography, our jobs, life, ect.. catching up with old times. But with many emails, seeing each other in the fall; it is funny how I can’t remember us ever talking about our blogs that we have. I just love this post he did talking about macro shots with bugs “look-at-me” and you will also find another great post on the “one photo that changed my life”. Do note that he does have some post talking computer talk that is way over my head! But, with many of our visits and comments, maybe we can get him to do more post on the wonderful photography he does.
I am not a birder so please excuse my stupid question. Is it the bad weather that killed the swallows or something else. From my know nothing position, has the weather been that bad? By the way the macro photography is beautiful.
19 April 2007 at 12:01 am
Sad about the swallows. I wonder why the bluebirds are okay but not the swallows? Any ideas?
19 April 2007 at 1:11 am
@ Mike – Tree Swallows feed on insects while flying in the air! When you have 5-6 days of non stop snow the Tree Swallows have a hard time finding food. Although they have been known to eat berries when times are hard. As in my previous post, so many swallows pack into a box the ones on the bottom are crushed from the weight of the other birds.. One of the list serv’s in PA had someone open one of the boxes this year and counted 30 birds in their.
@ Laura – bluebirds can be found here during the winter months and can easily find food (insects, seeds, ect..) from the ground instead of on the wings! BTW: Bluebirds have also been known to group up in boxes.
Their are probably many other factors involved but these are some of the main reasons.
19 April 2007 at 7:50 am
How sad to find so many birds that perished. :c(
Your cousin does have a wonderful eye for photography. Thanks for the link. Have a great day!
19 April 2007 at 8:39 am
Sorry, Mon@rch. As experienced as you are, it must still be difficult see the poor swallows and bluebirds that way.
Your cousin has great photos! The sun in fog was excellent and artful.
19 April 2007 at 9:09 am
It must have been hard for you to find all of those swallows. I think I would have cried.
Your cousin’s photos are amazing. Thanks for the link.
19 April 2007 at 9:25 am
Sad, sad, sad. I was hoping that your fears would not be realized – it’s a shame that they were.
19 April 2007 at 9:50 am
I’m so sorry about the Swallows, Mon@rch. What a sad, sad discovery. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Wonderful about the reconnection with your cousin. Love his bug photos although that first spider is totally creepy!
19 April 2007 at 9:58 am
It stinks that you found all those dead swallows. At least from a scientific point of view you could observe what happened and record it. I observed several hundred Tree Swallows roughly 10 days ago and then we had a big snow storm. Returning to the same location there was noticeably less. I’ve also noticed less Eastern Phoebes. I guess it is the risk you take as an early migrant, but still very sad.
19 April 2007 at 12:40 pm
Doggone it. This is so upsetting. I admire you for doing the monitoring and making yourself maintain your scientific discipline in the face of the sad loss. A few questions:
1. Could store-bought mealy worms dropped in those boxes during a storm help the birds?
2. Is that considered unwise intervention in nature?
3. If ‘yes’ to #2 – Aren’t the boxes already ‘unnatural’?
19 April 2007 at 7:47 pm
@ jayne – yes, was very much so! I agree, hope he is reading this!
@ Mary – It is hard knowing this would happen with nothing I could do about it! Thanks, I loved the fog photo also!
@ Lynne – sure was but didn’t cry! I was very prepaired in what I was going to find. Glad you visited his site!
@ Marty – you have no idea how much I wish I was wrong!
@ liza – could have been worse but still worried about our phoebes!! has been a great year connecting with him again!
@ Birdfreak – I did record it for sure and this will be an interesting year over all ! We do still have a few flying around and lucky the flying insects were out in numbers!! I have not even seen a Phoebe in a very long time! I have always had 2 or 3 pairs around where my house is located!!
@ Cathy – when you decide to monitor (scientific or not) you will have this happen with your boxes from time to time! Your responsible for placing the boxes, you need to take the time to maintain them. Regarding the storm bough meal worms, I maintain 50 boxes here in the park and personally never afford putting them out. The problem isn’t necessary the food for the swallows (ok, some of the problem) but what do you do for those that get crushed on the bottom of the box? Depends on what you are trying to study with the birds, so answer is yes and or no! My factor is more money! Yes the boxes are unnatural!
19 April 2007 at 8:29 pm
Oh Monarch! Pleeaaase don’t read my query as any kind of accusation of neglect. Dear man! Oh my gosh! I have such admiration for your efforts and concern in the service of our feathered friends.
I am new to your blog and ignorant of your responsibilities and even that those were your boxes. My mother hen instincts simply go into over-drive when I read, witness or hear about the demise of creatures and that produced my inane mealy worm cri de coeur.
Tell me you forgive me or I shall start pulling my hair out strand by strand. This will not be a good look for me so please have mercy.
19 April 2007 at 8:52 pm
No worries Cathy and glad your visiting! I thought you had wonderful questions and I would guess that others that don’t comment might be asking the same questions!! I have considered trying the mealworms for the bluebirds in my backyard but can’t do it for all 50 boxes!
19 April 2007 at 9:52 pm
I’m so sorry about the swallows and bluebirds. I hope it’s over now.
19 April 2007 at 11:36 pm