Subject: hoping for hirundinidae heaven on the hill
Date: Jun 18 21:14:38 2003
From: newboldwildlife at - newboldwildlife at

Hi All,

Delia & I live in a little house on a little lot in Beacon Hill. We?ve been hosting two Violet Green Swallow families now for several weeks, one in the front and one in the back, whereas in the past years we?ve only had one box be occupied per year. But we had given up on hosting Barn Swallows, birds that also failed to nest here last year. But hope springs eternal and today out of nowhere a Barn Swallow couple showed up and started looking excitedly at a past Barn Swallow nest-site on our stoop. Now they?ve raised our hopes that we could host three swallow families and truly be in hirundinidae heaven here on the hill.

I?m assuming our very late Barn Swallows are refugees from another site where they were dissuaded from nesting by someone who had better be planning to be extremely hot in their afterlife. I hear about this all the time.

What may have decided these swallows on our house is that we keep a vat of mud out in the median strip and make sure the mud is wet every morning. I suggest anyone who is near potential Barn Swallow sites do this. I also put a 2 x 4 inch ledge in every place that had the potential to be a Barn Swallow site: they like to be under a significant overhang to defeat Crow predation.

No one can convince me (I wish someone would try!) that Seattle is not in the midst of the collapse of the once huge population of upland residential Barn Swallows. There are fewer Barns on Beacon Hill now than I can ever remember (and I use quasi-scientific methods to store my anecdotal information). I don?t check Capitol Hill and other areas very often, but I doubt if many are hanging on there either, at least compared to the incredible numbers I remember from, say, the summer of 1977. Well, as day fades two Barn Swallows are sitting a few inches apart on the wire outside the house, and I sure am wishing them luck.

In other news it was great to hear and see lots of Wood Thrush and Ovenbirds back near Philadelphia, where my mom moved into a retirement home, as well as Acadian Flycatchers, Eastern Screech Owls and a Broad Winged Hawk.

Ed Newbold, Beacon Hill, Seattle newboldwildlife at

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