Tree Swallow Bird Houses
The Falmouth Rod & Gun Club and the Friends of Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, both partners within the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge have joined forces to help native Tree Swallows thrive here by building houses and placing them in the South Cape Beach area.
Problem Description: Beachgoers are constantly bothered by bugs when trying to enjoy their leisure time. Tree swallows who eat these pesky bugs go elsewhere if an adequate living environment does not exist for them. Over the past 20 years, the population of these birds in the area has diminished significantly due to limited nesting sites and other factors.
Solution: Obviously, there is a need for more nests. These birds prefer to nest and hunt in open marshes, wetlands, or fields where they collect bugs as they fly.
The partners conducted a pilot study to see if the birds would take to the nests built and placed in the marsh area. All nests were immediately occupied and fledged offspring.
The broods average 4 to 7 birds and it is believed that the partner effort produces more than 300 new Tree Swallows each year.
Benefits: These birds are voracious insect feeders throughout the warm summer, especially when they have hungry young to care for. One estimate is that they can consume .6 to 1.2 pounds of insects per week when raising their young. In addition to reducing the bug population, these beautiful birds provide entertainment with their quick movements and characteristic swooping.
Cost: Significant materials and labor have been donated by members of the Falmouth Rod and Gun Club.
Time Frame: Since the joint initiative started in 2013, approximately 70 houses have been installed in the area. Nests are cleaned each year and then monitored weekly from April to August to record nesting success.
Want to be Involved? Volunteers are needed to help with this monitoring effort and to record data online with Cornell University's Bird Lab Citizen Scientist NestWatch database. You can contact the Friends of Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge at to register for the mandatory nest box training and scheduling.