2004 Tree Swallow
Nest Box Project Report
Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation
The idea for
the Tree Swallow Nest Box Project grew from an offer by Friends
group members Lore and David Levitt to help plan a family program
during which participants would assemble birdhouses, and from
a recommendation by Friends group bird walk leader Nancy Guppy
that the group build nest boxes for tree swallows. These cavity-nesting
birds usually raise their young in holes in dead trees, many of
which have been removed from the Reservation for reasons of public
"Birdhouse Building Workshop" on March 21, 2004 was attended
by 35 children and adults. The workshop opened with a story told
by Lore Levitt about a baby bird who discovers the world. Then younger
children made bird boxes from ½ gallon milk cartons. The
children covered the cartons with overlapping pieces of masking
tape, a 1¼-inch hole was drilled for them, then they wiped
the surface with brown shoe polish to give a woody-looking, waterproof
tree swallow boxes were designed by Elizabeth Wylde using patterns
from several websites including those of Cornell University and
the New York Bluebird Society. Elizabeth pre-cut and pre-drilled
the pieces from white pine boards. Adults and two older children
at the workshop assembled the boxes using rustproof decking screws.
Each box was fitted on the bottom with a threaded pipe flange
for mounting on a threaded ¾ inch metal pipe. Finally,
the outsides of the boxes were wiped with linseed oil.
beginning of May tree swallows had been observed around and
entering all four boxes. On May 8 Elizabeth and Jean opened
Box 1 at Black's Nook and photographed a fine looking nest
made of dried grass and lined with feathers. The builders
fluttered nearby and returned to the box as soon as we left
Manager Chip Norton and Reservation Site Supervisor Vince Falcione
were very helpful in getting permission for the boxes to be put
up in appropriate locations on the Reservation. The Water Department
also donated four threaded galvanized pipes.
Early in April
Chief Ranger Jean Rogers and Elizabeth placed the boxes at sites
on the Reservation that were near water and open fields (see map).
We also posted laminated signs on two nearby Information Boards,
in the Ranger Contact Station, and on the fence next to the box
that overlooked Fresh Pond. The signs encouraged Pond-walkers
to report the activities of any birds on or near the boxes. Many
people called Jean to report seeing birds, and many more read
the signs and enjoyed observing the birds.
May 20 we visited all four boxes. Because the adults inside Boxes
1, 2, and 3 refused to leave when the box was tapped we did not
open them. There were no birds around Box 4, so we opened it and
took a photograph that showed several white eggs in the nest. We
added to the fence an "Update" sign with this photo of
third visit, to Boxes 1, 2 and 3 on June 15, revealed young swallows
in all of the nests, with six nearly fledged birds in Box 1. Our
second Update sign had photos of all three broods.
days later near Little Fresh Pond a large number of fledgling tree
swallows were seen sitting in dead trees being fed by their parents.
On June 25 we visited all four boxes and found no birds inside.
We removed all of the boxes and pipes except for Box 4, which we
opened and attached to the fence so that people could look at the
nest. The headline of our final update sign on the fence was "SUCCESS!"
Nest Box Project was a success on several levels: We offered a program
that many people attended and appreciated, we provided nesting sites
for birds that might not otherwise have been able to breed, we connected
with people who had not previously known about Friends of Fresh
Pond Reservation, we gave people who walk at Fresh Pond an opportunity
to observe a part of nature they might not otherwise have seen,
and we created an opportunity for people to communicate with one
another and with us about something that they valued at Fresh Pond
by Elizabeth Wylde
July 7, 2004
CARTON BIRD HOUSE DIRECTIONS
WOODEN NEST BOX PATTERN AND DIRECTIONS