Finally, a successful fledge!

The baby tree swallows fledged sometime in the past couple of days. A birder more experienced I reports that they would have left the nest all at once. I am sorry to have missed the moment. For one thing, I would have like to have known how many babies were in the nest; the volume of chirping that arose from the box suggested there were lots.

See Cornell bird ID for the Tree swallow, since I have no photo.

I hope Tree swallows don’t have a sense of smell. The now empty nest is befouled with guano. And it must have been hotter than Hades in there a week ago when the temperature hung out in the 90s.

Tree swallow nest now empty

Tree swallows were the only species to successfully raise a family using one of the meadow nesting boxes. Other species were not so lucky. I posted the tale of the Eastern bluebird family. The Carolina wrens hatched an egg or two in a nesting box but something happened. When I noticed the parents were not bringing home food any more, I opened the box to find a nest full of American carrion beetles consuming the flesh from skeletons with beaks. Wikipedia (to which I contribute, by the way) provides this taxonomy and photo. How did the beetles find the carcases so fast? I guess they follow the flies (see Wikipedia life cycle description below) but how do ground beetles do that?

American carrion beetle

Wikipedia on the life cycle of the American carrion beetle: “From spring through fall, during daylight, a few hours after flies begin arriving at a carcass, the adult beetles will arrive as well.[3] They immediately begin eating the already hatching fly larvae, mating, and laying their own eggs. As long as the carcass lasts, the adults will remain eating competitors to give their own larvae a chance to eat and grow. Upon hatching from the eggs, the larvae will eat both the carcass and other larvae that are within it. Eventually the larvae will fall to the ground, dig into the dirt, and pupate. Overwintering is done by adults.[2][3]”

  1. Sharry said:

    Susan – you Pioneer Woman/Natural History Maven! I would have run screaming from a box of carcasses with beaks, with or without beetles. I do appreciate knowing more about the process, though.
    Sounds as if the Meadow is giving you pleasure and some satisfaction that all that hard work paid off.
    Will write a real note soon; am recovering from show biz.
    xx Sharry

    • Sharry,

      I did not get my camera to photograph the beetles on the carcasses, let the record show. Can’t wait to hear about your recovery from show biz!! xo, s

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