Tree Swallow

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Tachycineta
Species: bicolor

La. passer  sparrow, small bird
La. forma  form, kind, species
La. hirundo  a swallow
Gr. takhus  fast, swift
Gr. kinetos  move
Gr. kinetes  mover
La. bi  twice

Tree Swallows, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1917
Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Five to six inches long. Steel blue-green crown becoming darker and shading into black on back, wings and forked tail. Snow white cheeks and undersides.

Breeds throughout most of North America from California to northern Alaska across Canada throughout the Great Lakes region, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, down the Atlantic seaboard as far as the Carolinas and somewhat less dense throughout the Mississippi Valley and upper plains. Sparse to none in the arid south. In winter, they migrate to California and the gulf coast, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America to Guatemala.

USGS Tree Swallow Map

Builds nests of grass and straw lined with feathers three to thirty feet high in natural or abandoned tree cavities and cliffs and very often in nestboxes in woodland edges, groves, farms and towns usually near streams and wetlands where rich populations of flying insects spawn.

Tree Swallow, Kathleen Davis

K. Davis

Lays about four to eight white eggs which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another three weeks. Often raise two broods per season. It's fascinating to watch them feed on flying insects in aerobatic shows. They also eat fruit.

In late summer, they form huge flocks sailing over open country and inhabiting marshes in the evenings before migrating.

Tree Swallows, Allan Brooks, Birds of Western Canada, P.A.Taverner, 1926


Some return to the areas where they were raised and many reuse the same nest boxes.

The Tree Swallow nest box (same as for Violet Green Swallow) has a 5" by 5" floor, 8" inside ceiling, 1 1/2" diameter entrance hole located 6" above the floor and ventilation openings.

Assembled with corrosion resistant screws fit to pre-drilled countersunk pilot holes. Hinged roof is secured with shutter hooks for easy access.

Tree Swallows like nest boxes mounted on dead trees near ponds and rivers, however, they will nest in a variety of places. 

Mount on a tree trunk or post, or hang from a tree branch or under an eave between four and twenty feet high with partial sun and shade.

 Nestbox Plans for Violet Green and Tree Swallows
Tree Swallow & Violet-Green Swallow Nestbox

Place several boxes in a yard or field edge; they welcome neighbors.   They also make great neighbors for bluebirds and help chase sparrows away.

Remove the nest after the brood rearing seasons are over.

Sparrows, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers and wrens may use this box.


Tree Swallow, R. Bruce Horsfall, A Year with the Birds, Alice E. Ball, 1916



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