Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Tree Swallow
 
 

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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Sylvioidea)
            Family Hirundinidae - Swallows and Martins
  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Sylvioidea includes nuthatches, creepers, wrens, tits, kinglets, and Old World Warblers.
Swallows (more forked tails) and Martins (squarer tails) are slender aerial predators with a short bill and wide gape. Their plumage is often metallic above and they have a single annual molt. They nest in holes, boxes, burrows, or nests made of mud. The family probably originated in and diversified from Africa. 
 
Tecs
 
     
  Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
 
     Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - (abundant, migration; common-uncommon, winter;
         uncommon-rare summer)
            AERIAL FORAGING (open areas near water)
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   Tree Swallows may be the most abundant swallow in North American, They are bi-colored with dark upper parts and a clean white throat, belly, and under tail area. Males have an iridescent blue-green back that may be seen when the individual turns the right way in the sun. Females have a dark to greenish back. All show a small white crescent on the sides of their rump that shows from above. The tail is only slightly forked.
Tree Swallow
     
Tree Swalow. Bear Island WMA
   
  RANGE: Tree Swallows breed from Virginia north along the Atlantic through Newfoundland to central Labrador, west along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and north to sub-arctic areas of Canada and Alaska, along the Alaskan west coast and the Aleutians, south along the Pacific to southern California, and east across the cooler parts of the plains (Utah, western Colorado, the Dakotas, Missouri, Tennessee) to the East coast.
   In winter, the withdraw to the Atlantic coast (Virginia south), Gulf coast, and from northern Mexico and Baja south to Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
   Tree Swallows form large pre-migratory communal roosts - huge flocks perform pre-roosting aerial displays.
   Many residents in the northeast provide bird boxes and this is probably our most studied swallow I (nests are easy to find).
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood (rarely 2). The female builds a nest (with some help) in a natural cavity (or human structure or box) using grass, weeds, small roots, moss, or other pine material, and lines it with feathers (of other species). She lays 4-6 (2-8) eggs which she incubates for 14-15 (13-16) days. Eggs hatch asynchronously. Young are altricial and leave the nest after about 18-22 days. Both sexes care for the young. Young are brooded for about 5 days.
   Tree Swallows often gather in loose colonies to breed. They are occasionally polygynous. Young may occur as attendants at other nests but do not serve as helpers (they steal food from young nestlings and their parents).
   They compete with other hole nesters for cavities.
   This is the only North American passerine in which females do not attain full breeding plumage the first year.
  DIET: Like other swallows they feed on insects but can feed on berries and seeds during colder months (see pictures above of individuals feeding on wax myrtles). They forage mostly in flight, often low over water or fields. They may feed on the ground.
  VOICE: Their voice is a series of clear, sweet whistles. In large flocks in fall they may utter scratchy "tzeev" notes.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - common fall through spring. Edisto - migrant.
      Coastal - common winter visitor. Hilton Head - common migrant. Cape Romain - common/occasional/common/common.
         Huntington Beach
- common April - May; uncommon June; rare July - August; common September; abundant October - November;             uncommon December; rare December - March.
      Caw Caw - common/rare/accidental/accidental. ACE - uncommon/absent/accidental/accidental.
   CBC: ACE 550, 93, 60, 356, 327, 109, 218201; Charleston 18, 15, 80, 49, 65, 7, 1065, 6;
            St Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 15, 10; Hilton Head 813, 2470, 824, 289, 122, 207, 321, 141; Sun City/Okatie 9, 2056, 52, 172, 142, 6, 88, 67;
            McClellanville 2253, 1271, 664, 246, nc, 3245, 719, 63; Winyah Bay x, x, 174, 173, 344, 1095, 208, 23;
                Litchfield/Pawley's 50, 98, 28, 50, 1018, 1, 5420, 253.
   P&G: Abundant fall migrant, common to fairly common in winter and spring. Rare summer visitor. 8 March - 23 May, 18 July - 11 November. Maximum: 450000 Awendaw, 14 October 1985.
   Avendex: 4 records. 50,000 Huntington Beach, September 26, 1995.
   Potter: Tree Swallows have expanded their breeding range. They are now nesting south to Oconee Co., SC, around the large lakes in the piedmont, and sparingly in the coastal plain (but still north of Charleston). They are a common spring and abundant fall migrant near the coast and winter there erratically. Spring migration is from early March through May and fall migration from July to early November in inland areas.
  ●  In the fall, Tree Sparrows form pre-migratory communal roosts and migrate south, often feeding as they move, in groups that may number in the thousands. I've seen them moving by early July.
   In the spring, migrating Tree Swallows form continuous streams over the beach, dunes, marshes, and fields. They are also common feeding over and drinking from Palmetto Lake. A few remain during the winter and can be seen over the beach.
   
   

Techs and Swallows

   Tree Swallows often feed as the move south. Over Capn' Sam's marsh, it is common to see a stream feeding and migrating - 20-50 or more at once. Large flocks also form, especially in the fall (above), and move in synchrony as the feed or migrate. They may land on wires by the hundreds or on the beach itself.
   One fall I was on Nanny Goat Beach on Sapelo. Two of the lab techs from the Marine Institute had spread out on a blanket to sun bathe. Migrating Tree Swallows landed around them, a bird every six inches or so spaced across the beach from swash to dune forming a perfect open circle about two feet around the sunning lab workers. Sorry I didn't have a camera!
       
    Banner - Tree Swallows. Bear Island WMA.
       
       
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