On March 3, 2009, I spotted three tree swallows circling our property in the preparatory dance of love. They were chirping and fluttering and strutting and doing all the things they are supposed to do this time of year. Their acrobatics are astounding as they swoosh round and round circling above the pastures at terrifying speeds. Really, it is quite a show. These first arrivals were displaying their stuff in fine form and more arrived today, about two weeks behind the search party. I am sure some of these birds hatched and fledged from the boxes on our property
However....I knew that the battle royal was about to begin. A combat situation between two fly weights of the avian world. The tree swallows have one object on their miniature bird brains. It is a pair of boxes which are already claimed by a these two western bluebirds...
These bluebirds are the well established owners of the paired boxes on the post at this corner in the pasture. The male on the left and the female on the right staunchly defend their territory from alien invaders. They are vital bug eating members of the flittery-jittery gang that live year round at our house. Go bluebirds, Go!
Hooded in his brilliant blue space age helmet, we see a tree swallow jealously eyeballing the nesting boxes from the adjacent fence line. (above) Don't let the clean white shirt fool you. These tree swallows can get down and dirty fighting over nesting boxes.
Not to let the blatant stares go unanswered, Mr. Bluebird shows his ownership by flying into the nest box and putting his body in the entrance hole to block swallows from visiting his home. He is not going to loose his box to a bunch of fly by night visitors.
Working as the wing woman, Mrs. Bluebird perches on a nest box about 150 feet away and does the back door attack on the swallows chasing them out of her territory.
Then in what looked like aerial combat, the bluebirds and the swallows battled like 4 ounce titans. As the gang of tree swallows swooped and dived at them from above, the bluebirds launched short bursting attacks upward, always returning to their nest box. This display of territoriality only lasted for 3 minutes but it was enough to see who's box it was and who's box it was not. After finding their attempt to claim the box futile, the swallows disappeared. But they will be back. There are 6 other boxes they can use on our property...
Then the dominating pair of bluebirds stood at attention on the highest portion of the bluebird boxes, claiming their territory only as bluebirds can.
It was fun to watch and we shall see babies in a few more months!