This 2018 season was our 5th year monitoring birdhouses in our backyard. Please follow this channel and add any comments, we’d love to hear from you. On 6-13-18 a pair of Violet Green Swallows hatched 5 eggs and on 7/8/18 the last of the 4 surviving chicks left the nest. As of 7-9-18 the two birdhouses have remained empty. I will continue streaming for now in case any birds try for a second brood.
Read below for a chronology the current and previous seasons, links to videos of past and current adventures, and details about equipment.
Our USTREAM shows a live 24/7 quad view of 4 cameras: 1) Top left is inside of the Office birdhouse labeled “O”, 2) Top right is outside of Office birdhouse also labeled “O”, 3) Bottom left is inside of “Kitchen birdhouse” labeled “K”, and 4) bottom right is the outside of Kitchen birdhouse also labeled “K”. It is also recorded for later review/editing which allows documenting all significant events. Depending on activity, I may switch the quad view to just view one box.
We are proud to participate in Cornell Ornithology Lab's Nest Watch program for the 4th year (http://nestwatch.org).
**Link to several recorded videos of previous and current adventures:
(These videos include several dramatic events such as a spider attack on a chickadee hatchling, the mom removing the spider twice, the chickadee mom defending her nest against a bee, other swallows wanting in, a blue jay yanking a VG swallow out of her nest and more)
I included a pdf paper I found by my professor Paul Ehrlich written ironically at the same time I was still at Stanford in 1987, which documented observations of Scrub Jay attacks on other birds on campus at that time.
EQUIPMENT: Inside both birdhouses and outside the Kitchen birdhouse: Small HD HawkEye color/night vision nest cams. Outside Office birdhouse: HawkEye regular color/night vision nest cam. All 4 cameras video/audio/power output cables brought into our house & connected to a Podofo HD Color Video 4 Channel Quad splitter which allows up to 4 cameras displayed at the same time but has no audio input. I can connect Audio from any one of the cameras separately to the Elgato Video Adapter, but can only listen to one camera at a time.
A separate video cable connects the Quad Splitter to an Elgato Video capture adapter which in turn connects via USB to an old mid-2011 Mac Mini that I’ve dedicated to this use (OS X El Capitan, 8GB RAM, 512MB internal drive, 2TB external drive, HP Pavilion 19 inch display, powered external speakers).
Video is recorded 24/7 daily and checked/trimmed using Elgato video capture software and saved to a 2TB external USB drive. If needed videos are later edited using Camtasia 9 on my Windows 7 laptop. Live 24/7 streaming is done using the free Open Broadcaster Software (OPS) that displays a selected portion of the screen that shows the video display window from Elgato Video Capture software v. 2.0, and connects it to my free USTREAM channel (now owned by IBM). Internet is via Xfinity Blast Internet with an Xfinity Modem and Cat5 ethernet cable directly connected to the Mac Mini. I use Teamviewer ver. 10 software to access and control the Mac Mini remotely via Internet anytime needed from my laptop or iphone.
2018 SEASON ACTIVITY:
7-8-18: All 4 chicks finally left the nest, apparently for good this time.
7-7-18: Two of the 4 chicks left the nest, one came back again, then left again
6-20-18 -to 7-6-18: The remaining 4 chicks quickly developed as both the mom and pop fed them regularly.
6-19-18: One of the chicks wasn’t as strong as the other 4 and it died, remaining underneath the other chicks vying for food.
6-14-18 to 6-18-18: All 5 chicks seem to have survived so far and are starting to develop rapidly, now are showing more fuzz/fur, eyes still shut. Interesting event happened over the last 4 days, a second female swallow has come into the nest, acting like she wants to shape the nest and make it her own (ignoring the chicks). When the Male swallow came into the nest with the 2nd female, he ignored her and fed the chicks. When the real mom came in to find her there, there was a big fight as the mom forced her eventually out. That second female has come into the nest 3 times, twice the Mom had to peck at her and force her out. Note back in 4/5/18 when the swallows were first checking out the nest, a second female came into the nest at that point and there was a big fight (recorded also on video). Seems likely this might be the same female coming back. We’ll have to see if she continues to make and appearance as the chicks get bigger.
6-13-18: All 5 eggs have now hatched and both parents are feeding them, with the mom doing most of the work, including removing the shells.
6-12-18: 3 eggs hatched and both the mom and dad started feeding them.
5-31-18 - 6-11-18: The mom has been brooding over the eggs, with the male also sometimes coming into the nest as well.
5-30-18: Still only 5 eggs in the nest as of the morning.
5-25-18 to 5-29-18: staring on 5-25, the female has laid 5 eggs, one per day.
5-17-18 to 5-24-18: The ant trap seems to be working to reduce ants in the box. The mom has roosted overnight continuously, the male appearing off and on and even roosting together on occasion. She should be close to laying eggs any day now.
5-16-18: The mom continues to roost overnight, shape the nest. After consulting Nest Watch, I came up with a safe way to put a Terro ant bait next to the box: I took a plastic sandwich meat container that had a lid, drilled 1/2” holes around the sides near the bottom so the ants could get in, and screwed it to the house siding next to the bottom of the box. I then placed the terro trap inside the container, put the lid on. That way the birds wouldn’t be able to touch it. It started attracting the ants immediately.
5-15-18: The female roosted overnight in the box for the first time. The mom has kept bringing in various flying insects she caught, sometimes eating them but often leaving them in the nest. One large one that clearly had died attracted many little black ants, and while this irritated the female swallow, she continued staying in the nest.
5-2-18 to 5-14-18: the swallows continued building their nest in the Office birdhouse, the male also coming into the nest on occasion to help.
4-19-18 to 5-1: vg swallows returned to go into the office birdhouse off and on, and briefly land on outside of kitchen birdhouse. No nest building yet.
4-13-18 to 4-18-18: no swallows or chickadees seen checking out the nests
4-12-18: swallows going into office birdhouse of and on. No nest building yet.
4-11-18: Swallows still checking out the office birdhouses, and for the first time a BC Chickadee went inside the office birdhouse.
4-10-18: Swallows checked out the birdhouses, and a Starling tried to poke it’s head into the Kitchen birdhouse (labeled “K”) but the entrance was too small (1 3/8”).
4-6-18 - 4-9-18: Swallows have been in and out checking out the Office birdhouse throughout the week.
4-5-18: A Female swallow attacked another female swallow inside the Office birdhouse, forcing her out of the box. A starling landed on the Kitchen birdhouse, tried to poke it’s head in. But my entrance plate making the hole only 1 3/8” diameter did it’s job keeping the larger bird out.
4-5-18: Two swallows checked out Office birdhouse, both went in, one larger, may have been the male, looked very aggressive on top of the smaller female inside the birdhouse, looked like they were mating. But the larger swallow didn’t seem like a male, though it must have been unless this was an attack. After the incident, the smaller female looked very disoriented, then finally made her way out of the box.
4-4-18: Swallow landed on outside of Office birdhouse checking it out.
4-3-18: VG swallows checking out the Office birdhouse, female went inside.
4-1-18: Connected the Office and Kitchen birdhouse cameras.
3-29-18: 4 or 5 VG Swallows flew around the yard, landed on rooftop.
Brief recap of the 2017 season:
In 2017 we monitored 3 nests, one in our “Kitchen birdhouse” and our “Office birdhouse” first had a Chickadee nest, then after they fledged and I cleaned the nest box VG Swallows built a nest there as well. In the 2 birdhouses a total of 17 eggs were laid: 6 eggs were abandoned and unhatched, 1 VG swallow hatch-ling and 4 BC chickadee hatch-lings died, and 4 chickadees and 3 swallows survived to leave the nest.
Just after the Black Capped Chickadee female had built the nest and laid 7 eggs in the Office birdhouse, she lost her mate (to our new young cat), then fended off intruders (including a bee, an huge Oregon Jumper spider that attacked one of the babies who later died. After 4 of the 7 chickadee hatch-lings survived and fledged, I cleaned out the nest and a week later swallows came and built a new nest, where later 3 swallow chicks fledged successfully.
May 30th: In the “Kitchen Birdhouse” a VB Swallow mom was yanked out of her nest by a Scrub Jay (captured on the video in link above). She never returned to that nest. I later cleaned out that birdhouse, but it remained empty. She had built a nest and finished laying 6 eggs by May 29th, but without her the eggs remained unhatched.
2017 SEASON ACTIVITY:
8-4-17: At 7:30am this morning, the remaining two swallow chicks left the nest after the mom was feeding both of them while they had their heads out of the entrance.
8-3-17: At 6:34am in the morning the first of the chicks left the nest, following his mom right after she fed him from outside the entrance. The other two are both actively peeking out the entrance together at the same time. Should wind up leaving any time now as well.
7-29-17 to 8-2-17: All 3 chicks actively climbing and jostling to peek out of the entrance, often two at a time. Parents no longer come into the nest, just feed them from outside.
7-28-17: One of the chicks climbed up and peeked out the entrance. The parents still coming into the nest to feed them, seems to be room enough for that.
7-20-17 to 7-27-17: The 3 have been getting more active, have grown fast, developed feathers, opened their eyes, now look like small adults.
7-19-17: Only 3 of the hatchlings survived. The mom had been agitated for the past 2 nights, but was not removing the corpse. I intervened while parents out of the nest and gently removed the dead one with tweezers in a couple minutes. Parents came right back, no issues.
7-18-17: The smallest of the 4 hatchlings has been unable to compete for food and has been constantly buried under his larger siblings, has of today stopped moving and is likely dead. The remaining 3 are active, starting to develop more defining features.
7-12-17 to 7-17-17: 3 of the 4 hatchlings have been developing faster than the 4th, and it looks like it won’t make it, haven’t seen it successfully being feed recently and is always on bottom of the pile.
7-11-17: The second of 4 eggs has hatched; mom is actively feeding them while also brooding.
7-10-17: The first of the 4 eggs has hatched! The mom is now feeding the one baby and continuing to brood over them all.
7-3-17 to 7-9-17: Female brooding over her eggs, sometimes bringing in more feathers
6-30-17: Looks like it will only be 4 eggs this time
6-27-17: 4 eggs have been laid
6-25-17 The swallow laid her second egg in the Office birdhouse nest, again in the morning at (7:05am).
6-24-17. The swallow has laid her first egg in the Office birdhouse nest this morning! There have been other VG swallows in the area again checking out the other “Kitchen birdhouse”, landing on the entrance but none have gone inside it again. Will keep monitoring that box as well just in case.
6-20-17: The female VG swallow is actively building up the nest in the Office birdhouse, has started roosting overnight. In the Kitchen birdhouse, a female entered the empty box and then right after a male also entered, and landed on top of her, fluttering it’s wings, moving her around the box. It looked very much like they were mating inside the box! This probably was a different pair of swallows, but not sure.
6-13-17 to 6-18-17: The swallows started going into the nest, bringing in material regularly. I reconnected the nest cams and started live streaming again
6-12-17: Swallows began landing on the Office birdhouse, checking it out.
6-3-27: After finally poking their heads out to see the outside world, all 4 chickadees left the Office birdhouse nest. The swallow never returned to the Kitchen birdhouse. I cleaned out both birdhouses and saved both nests; the swallow nest still with the 6 unhatched eggs. I then stopped live streaming.
6-1-17: Swallow still hasn’t returned to her nest. Chickadees being fed large bugs by the mom who also then removed their fecal sacs when they upend themselves and push them out. They are starting to beat wings and climb a bit on the inside walls, have not poked their heads out entrance yet.
5-30-17: Chickadees growing, ready to leave nest, testing out wings. The swallow was attacked and dragged out of her nest by a Scrub Jay that poked its head in. Swallow did not return to nest.
5-29-17: Swallow ended up with 6 eggs laid
5-26-17: Swallow laid 4th egg
5-25-17 Swallow laid 3rd egg
5-23-17: Swallow laid her first egg. A bee came into the Chickadee birdhouse and the mom grabbed it and removed it.
5-22-17: The spider managed to return to the nest somehow and the mom chickadee removed it again.
5-21-17: The mom chickadee removed the dead baby after roosting over it overnight. Also removed a smaller baby that never got out of half its shell.
5-20-17: The chickadee baby that was bit died.
5-19-17: A large Bold Jumper spider (Phidippus audax probably) entered nest and attacked the smaller of the 5 Chickadee babies! The mom came in and grabbed the spider removing it from the nest.
5-17-17: By this evening, looks like another chick isn’t able to compete and is getting buried by his siblings, can see only 5 active mouths when mom comes to feed them.
5-16-17: The last egg shell was at least partially hatched, but looks like the chick wasn’t able to get out of half of the shell has been buried under the other active chicks. The mom ate the one half, but the other portion with stuck chick is underneath the other chicks at bottom of nest; it won’t survive.
5-15-17: By this evening 2 more eggs hatched, one egg remains. The new chicks are slower to get their mouths open/seen by the mom but are actively trying. She again ate the shells.
5-14-17: Mothers Day--and by evening 4 of the chickadee eggs hatched! The mom ate each shell after the chick was out, and started trying to feed them.
5-11-17: Chickadee still roosting over her 7 eggs, still no sign of the male chickadee and fear it was the one killed by our young cat. Female swallow roosted overnight for the first time after bringing in a big feather to the nest, should be close to laying eggs soon.
5-9-17: Male swallow joining female in the nest briefly, she is still building up the nest, but not roosting overnight yet. Chickadee female still brooding over 7 eggs, no sign of her male mate.
5-8-17: 7am male chickadee came into nest twice to join female and fed her while she was brooding. Swallow still bringing in material to nest, male swallow joined female in the nest for a while at noon. In afternoon our male 9 month old cat caught & killed a chickadee—-it was not the female, but worried it might be the male mate.
5-5-17: Chickadee brooding over 7 eggs, swallow still building nest
5-3-17: Connected both cameras to a Quad Splitter so can now display both the BC Chickadee and VG Swallow nests at the same time. The Chickadee is spending time brooding over her 7 eggs. The VG Swallow is in the process of building her nest.
5-2-17: The Chickadee has laid a total of 7 eggs! She has a habit of covering it up when leaving usually, so was initially hard to tell how many eggs, but verified it is 7. The Swallow is actively building her nest.
4-27-17: Chickadee looks like has laid it's first egg, but hard to tell since she covers it all up when leaving the nest. Swallows bringing in more nest material.
4-25-17: Chickadee had finished her nest. Has been roosting overnight all week. Swallows are starting to bring in material to the kitchen birdhouse.
4-18-17: Swallows landing on outside of Kitchen birdhouse. Chickadee bringing more material into Office birdhouse nest, shaping the nest.
4-11 to 4-17-17: VG Swallows starting to land on kitchen birdhouse; Chickadees have started a nest in the office birdhouse.
3-25 to 4-10-17: VG Swallows flying around area
2016 SEASON ACTIVITY:
7-5-16: The chicks all grew up, and all 6 left the nest.
6-12-16 to 6-22-16: The 7th egg never did hatch. The 6 chicks have grown rapidly, with both the male and female sharing the feeding duties, and the female also removing waste sacs and staying overnight with the chicks. The chicks have developed quite a bit more, getting too big for the female to layover all of them, wings and beaks beginning to look more defined.
6-11-16: The eggs started hatching and 6 of the 7 eggs hatched! The male has been actively helping the female feed the new chicks, coming into nest (sometimes both of the adults at the same time).
5-30-16 to 6-7-16: She has been mostly lying on top of the eggs, in and out, the male has even come into the nest a couple times while she was in there...she would leave, the male wouldn't lay on top of the eggs, just stay a short while then leave. Eggs should start hatching by this weekend.
5-25-16 to 5-29-16: She laid a total of 7 eggs! One each day.
5-24-16: Second egg laid, sometime early hours of morning.
5-23-16: First egg laid for sure this time! The egg is much larger than what I had previously thought might have been an egg, so no doubt about it.
5-22-16: Female in and out, still roosting.
5-21-16: False alarm - though first egg was laid! Turned out to be probably a balled up feather. Female wanted to get out of the nest in the morning at 5:30am, but male was still perched in the opening and would not move even though she tried hard moving about. He finally let her nudge him out after 45 minutes, and she left the nest.
5-20-16: Male showed came into the nest box after dark, wound up perching on the entrance looking out the whole night.
5-16-16 to 5-19-16: Female brought more twigs in to shore up nest, a few more feathers. Roosting overnight each night.
5-15-16: Female building up the nest in and out throughout day, getting close to finishing it. Noticed she lands on the sidewalk/gutter of the street to get material. Still roosting overnight, stays after dark around 8 - 8:30pm, then leaves around 6:30am in morning.
5-10-16 to 5-14-16: female building up nest with twigs, seeds pods, moss, feathers etc... Wound up building two nests, one in Kitchen house, one in Office house. She chose the Office birdhouse and started roosting overnight.
5--5-16: Female checking out office birdhouse, started bringing in twigs.
5-3-16: Several swallows have been checking out the two birdhouses (outside Kitchen, outside Office), going inside.
2015 SEASON ACTIVITY:
7-3-15: The last two fledglings flew away, so all 6 young grew up healthy, and flew the coop! A wonderful adventure watching it all unfold.
7-2-15: 3 more swallows fledged, so now there are only two left in the nest. It looks like the young fledglings were flying around the area for a while as well.
7-1-15: The first young swallow left the nest! The adults are no longer feeding them much, so they all should leave within a day or two.
6-24-15 to 6-30-15: All 6 chicks have survived and are almost fully grown and are ready to leave the nest. It's very crowded inside; the parents do not come into the nest anymore, so no more removal of fecal sacs so it's getting more and more messy. They all seem anxious to get out and need to soon. Both parents are actively feeding from the outside whichever chicks are poking their heads out the entrance. Since all 6 seem healthy, they must be all getting a chance to be fed.
6-22-15 to 6-23-15: The chicks now know to also climb up to the entrance---two can do this at a time, and then the parents feed them from the outside of the box. Problem is the ones that climb up block the entrance, making it hard for the other chicks to get fed. Hopefully they all get their chances. They are all looking more and more like the adults.
6-21-15: All chicks are doing well, growing more, feathers becoming developed, stretching wings. One climbed up to entrance and look out. Parents often have to feed from entrance now that there is less room in nest as all 6 chicks are bigger.
6-16-15 to 6-20-20: All 6 chicks are much bigger, starting to move about the nest, fluttering their developing wings, beaks are beginning to take more adult like shape. Mom and Dad actively feeding them all throughout the day. They are too big for mom to lay on top of, so when roosting they find space around her at night.
6-10-15 to 6-14-15: It's been a week since the first eggs hatched, they are growing, much more vocal, and the mom/dad actively feeding. All 6 seem fine. Noticed the Mom removing the small white fecal sacs when she sees them---keeps the nest clean and avoids smells that could attract predators.
6-9-15: All 6 eggs have hatched and both parents actively feeding them. All have survived so far.
6-8-15: 2 more eggs hatched; male is also entering nest to feed the young ones
6-7-15: 3 eggs hatched! The female removed the eggshells from the nest, and feeds the little ones when they open their mouths.
5-28-15 to 6-6-15 In/out, most time spent brooding over the 6 eggs.
5-27-15: Still at 6 eggs, brought in a few more feathers. The spider crawled up the wall out of sight, not sure if it's still there. Will have to see if it comes back.
5-26-15: She seems to have stopped at 6 eggs. In and out of nest, spending time brooding, in at dark until about 6:30am typically. Interesting--a large wolf spider (or jumping spider, not sure which took up residence in bottom right corner of birdhouse under a feather, came out to catch a beetle, retreated when bird entered or left nest. Swallow is ignoring it for now.
5-25-15: She laid her sixth egg this morning...this is becoming a big family!
5-24-15: This morning she laid her fifth egg. Will have to see there will be more or if she's done.
5-23-15: Like clockwork, laid a 4th egg, in off and on during the day.
5-22-15: She laid a third egg, and is again brooding most of the day.
5-21-15: She laid the second egg in the morning! While she was away in the afternoon, I quickly switched cameras inside the birdhouse to the HD Hawkeye camera for better resolution and wider view, only took a couple minutes. She did not see me, and in the evening came back into the nest and the slightly bigger camera was no problem and she is roosting/brooding at night as usual.
5-20-15: She laid her first egg today sometime in the early afternoon! Now we can follow the entire adventure!
5-11-15 to 5-19-15: Spent most time building up nest and roosting overnight.
5-10-15: Happy Mother's Day! Let's hope this swallow becomes a mother soon! She's still bringing in material and shaping the nest---some twigs, soft seed pods, and she's using some of the white feathers I'd put out in the yard and on the roof for her. She roosted overnight for the first time today!
5-5-15 to 5-9-15: She is continuing to build up nest with material, including small twigs/seeds, feathers, and move them around with her beak and also fluttering her wings and spinning around begin making a bowl shape.
5/4/15: Female began bringing in material into the Office birdhouse: started with a couple of feathers.
5/3/15: Female entered our "office birdhouse" (under an eve outside our upstairs office) to check it out extensively. She stayed in it multiple times for 40 minutes or more, poking all around.
4/28/15 - 5/1/15: Group of 5-6 VG Swallows flew around high in sky above yard, did not come closer.
2014 SEASON ACTIVITY:
5/20/14 to 5/26/14: Swallows finished a nest in our custom "kitchen birdhouse" under an eve 15 ft above kitchen but wound up abandoning it at the last minute.
She has also brought in insects then swallow them once inside.
The swallow seemed to prefer swooping down to get material from the more open areas of the sidewalk, curb or street rather than our front or back lawn. They don't seem to mind if you are standing a few feet away.
5/14/14 - 5/19/14: Female Violet Green Swallow started going inside the Kitchen Birdhouse to check it out.
Late March to 5/7/14: Several Violet Green Swallows have been landing on the Kitchen Birdhouse, sometimes poking head in a little but not going in.