Early last Spring, or maybe it was late last winter, my friend Jimmy Vincent from one of my favorite walking places being The Humber Arboretum, presented a late wedding gift of sorts to Angie and I. A lovely handmade bird house he had built over the winter in his spare time at home.
On the roof of the house is a heart etched in with R + A inside the heart.
Both Angie and I were very touched by this gift. So personal, so cool, so us!
Jimmy said to take it home and enjoy it. To which I did.
Angie and I talked about what to do with it. At first it was thought to just keep it inside with some of our other cool bird items. But then we thought about setting it up on the grounds of the Arboretum. The thought of some birds nesting in it one day would be amazing! A gift of a suitable nesting cavity to some birds in need of one.
Jimmy was all for the idea and a couple weeks later, when the ground thawed enough, I met him up at the visitor centre, and away we went to set up the house. Jimmy being used to setting these things up, did just that in no time at all, once we picked out what seemed to be the perfect spot.
I did my best to monitor the house through the Spring and it seemed to go unnoticed by the birds. I got lost through the months of June and July with the Falcon fledge watches. And sometime in August I had another visit to the Arb grounds and checked on the house. I had found a partial nest inside, which turned out to be a dummy nest for a House Wren. I did not know that the male will set up numerous nests in an area and lets the female pick out the one to use. I almost took offence to the lady Wren disapproving our lovely little home! LoL!
As Autumn rolled around, I stopped in again and cleaned out the house. To my shock, something had gotten inside the house and died in there. No idea what but there were thousands of ants all over the last remains. I wasted no time in scraping that box clean, no wondering over what it was.
After the harsh long winter we had, Spring finally arrived, and while I had visited the Arb many times over the winter, now it was time to place some focus on our house once again. The house was facing more of a south/west position and have heard from others that south/east seems to work best. So I repositioned the t-bar the house was set up on, thus having the cavity hole facing the magical position of south/east.
Here we are a couple months later and after a check on the box on Sunday June 1st, 2014, I see we have some actual residents. As I neared the box, I thought I saw a bird on it, but wasn't entirely certain. I put my bins on the box and sure enough there was a Tree Swallow hanging on the outside the hole. I took a photo from this distance for records in case he flew off and maybe this all was just a tease of him hanging out there.
But as I neared, the bird put his attention on me, and flew up to the roof of the house. I watched him for a bit and he watched me. Of course other things got his attention in the meantime, other birds flying around, some kids on dirt bikes going along the trails, which both of us frowned upon.
I decided to inspect the inside of the box. Normally I wouldn't but after being on numerous field trips with nest box inspections, I know enough that a little peek will not cause too much disturbance other than temporarily upset the adults. Of course, upon opening the door, one must do it very slowly, because you never know what is going on within. The most important thing is to ensure if there are chicks inside, they don't accidentally leave the nest box because they may not be ready to do so.
As I removed the latch, I slowly opened the door, and watching the inside as I pulled the door/wall away. There was no sound or movement within. And as light got into the box, I could see there was a lovely little nest within. It had the famous feather lining that a Tree Swallow does. A quick look down into the nest, it was empty.
I took this with my mobile phone...
I then shut the box, apologized to the angry Tree Swallow sitting nearby hollering at me, and quietly strolled away.
This is pretty awesome to us. Our nest boxes at home remain empty this Spring so it's nice to know our "other" house has some action in it. I will be doing my best to monitor this box in between work and the rapidly approaching Falcon fledge watch which begins sometime next week.
Stay tuned for upcoming reports on this nest.
If you'd like to know more about Tree Swallows, please click this link and read on.