Last spring we gave our children a challenge – for every bird house that they put up that had a nest in it we would give them $1. The project was a success. We put up a total of 34 bird houses around the farm, and 21 had at least one nest built in them. Almost all of the bird houses that were put on a fiberglass or metal fence post had nests in them. Few of the bird houses that were attached to trees or buildings had nests in them. The birds apparently felt less safe in a bird house attached to a tree.
Wild birds are an important part of our farm. The tree swallows and barn swallows keep the hawks away during the spring and summer months. The chickens feel much safer ranging out in the pastures. We can tell when the swallows migrate south in the fall. Within a week the hawks are back terrorizing the chickens. The hawks usually aren’t very successful in getting a hen, but their circling overhead makes the hens run for cover. It is amazing how a vulture can circle overhead and the chickens don’t mind or run for cover, but if a hawk comes around they run for safety before the hawk flies very close.
The tree swallows, barn swallows, and bluebirds did a wonderful job last summer eating flies and mosquitoes. We also get a lot of enjoyment out of watching the tree swallows put on flying shows. Two swallows will fly in close formation making sharp turns and dives similar to an Air Force Flying Show. They are incredible!