2016 Tree Swallow Nest Box Report
Fresh Pond Reservation
Reservoir System Manager Vince Falcione, of the Cambridge Water Department, and volunteer Elizabeth Wylde put up most of the Reservation’s fifteen tree swallow boxes on March 28.  Later Vince put up the two boxes in the Lusitania Wet Meadow, which was wet enough that waterproof boots were required.
Most of the boxes attracted swallows within a week or two.  Several, including the one in the Water Department parking lot planting bed, were taken over by house sparrows. The sparrow nest in the parking lot box was removed, but no swallows then moved in, perhaps because house sparrows are known to threaten other species that compete for nesting cavities.
Swallows were observed in, on, or near most of the boxes during May and June.  The two boxes in the Lusitania Wet Meadow provided participants on our bird walks with plenty of opportunities to observe these birds in action.
When the boxes were taken down by Vince at the end of the summer, he found that only two of the boxes (Numbers 10 and 11) did not have nests of any kind. Although several of the nests that were found might have been built by house sparrows, our scattered observations during the season suggest that we had a fairly typical year, with ten to twelve successful nests.
The boxes were power-washed to remove debris, and stored in the upper watershed barn for the winter.
Elizabeth Wylde
January 9, 2017