April 10, 2014

Tree swallows – spring arrives on a flash of blue wing

photo by Anne Greene
The tree swallow is a dart of a bird that winters as far south as Central America, Florida, and Baja and returns to New England meadows and marshes in April on a path of weaving bobs and streaming wires of iridescence. On the wing and in bad light Tree swallows can appear black on the back with a white belly, but when perched on a nesting box or dead branch the true colors of the swallow become clear, a rich, glossy violet. Swallows are aerial hunters of the finest form. They “hawk” insects on the wing and from afar appear engaged in a lunatic’s spiral. In spring swallows migrate in loose bands but come fall amass in huge flocks by the thousands. Tree swallows are cavity nesters and can be found in meadows where bluebird boxes are present or in the dead trees above a beaver pondWatch for these aerial masters as they have returned to New England.

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works at the EcoTarium in Worcester and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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