Back on March the 30th Darlene Sillick, Tim Bischoff and Stephen Bischoff from the Ohio Young Birders Club teamed up with Lori Totman, Michelle Lundy, Chris Bunge and Don Nelson from the Licking County FAN Club to lay out a Tree Swallow Grid at Dawes Arboretum. For the site location you need an open field near a body of water so that they can catch there food (flying insects). The location Dawes chose was the Red Barn Area. The plan was to put out a 4×4 grid with each nest box being 75 feet apart because even though the swallows are community nesters they are still territorial over their nest boxes.
Using Dick Tuttle’s Bluebird articles and the Pythagorean Theorem as instructions, we fixed a string to mark the first row of the grid. Our group fought brambles and ash from the burn area marking spots for the posts 75 feet apart. To square the rows, we marked 106 feet for the hypotenuse of the triangle. It took about 2 hours to mark the spots for the 16 posts. The grid sits near a mound around 300 feet away on the left side of the trail where you can watch the acrobatic flyers.
On April 5th, the OYBC and Licking County FAN met for a bird walk (described above) and to set the posts and mount the nest boxes. Lori taught us to use compasses to locate the southeast direction so that the nest box open was out of prevailing winds. After we located the correct direction we used post pounders to drive an electrical conduit a foot into the ground. Then we used cordless drills to mount 16 nest boxes that OYBC made earlier this last fall.
We expect Tree Swallows to use the nest boxes but there could also be Eastern Bluebirds and House Sparrows. The Tree Swallows come from South America where they migrate in the winter. They come in late March or early April and start nesting in mid-April. A Tree Swallow nest is made of finely woven straw with feathers intertwined. The incubation period for the eggs is 14 days. They can have 1-2 broods per year. The nest boxes will be monitored by the Ohio Birding FAN Club. We visited the Glacier Ridge Tree Swallow grid that OYBC put up in 2011. It was booming with activity. We look forward to visiting Dawes later this year to see if they have discovered our grid.
Stephen Bischoff are student member of the Central Ohio Chapter of the Ohio Young Birders Club. You can check out the photo album for this project.